The Meaning of Guru
THE MASTER or GURU
"The stranger asks what the way is to him who knows this way. Taught by him who knows, he does not get lost. Truly this is the blessing of wisdom; he finds the way that leads straight forward". RIG-VEDA (X .32.7)
The master is a mirror and you cannot speak to a mirror. The master will not respond to any requests you make: help, explanations. At times it may seem that he responds, whether he is your friend or foe, but in reality he himself is the answer: everything he does or says, and that intrigues or annoys you or you do not understand; sometimes it hits you like an enlightenment other times like a punch. A teacher who would simply respond and help you would never make you take the leap. He shows you in a mirror everything that makes you vibrate: your incapacities, your limitations, your desires; he simply embodies them, gives them human form. For this reason, although he is one, a behavior, a style, a character, to each pupil he appears different, even enormously different. Everyone sees what they need, good or bad, good or bad, welcoming or aggressive. His ability, his gift is precisely this to be crossed. This his being everything.
In the practice of Yoga and authentic Tantra the existence of a realized spiritual guide is absolutely necessary: "A blind man cannot guide another blind man".
A bona fide Yoga master takes full responsibility for the disciple's guidance. An ineffable and free relationship is established between them which, taking into consideration the nobility and the height of the prefigured goal, overcomes even the parent-child relationship in love and empathy. Evidently here we are referring to Yoga in its deeper aspects. There is a very dangerous trend these days where it is said that there is no need for a spiritual guide, that everyone can do it alone. A common sense analysis makes us understand that in reality in every field there is a need for guidance and even more so in Yoga where some aspects must be carefully monitored and put into practice wisely, gradually. All great yogis agree with this basic idea.
On the other hand, Yoga approached as a simple gymnastics is not dangerous if there is no guidance, but it will not produce the extraordinary beneficial effects that spiritual integration can bring instead.
THE NEED FOR A SPIRITUAL GUIDE FOR THOSE WHO SEEK THE ULTIMATE TRUTH
The importance attributed to the spiritual guide-aspirant relationship, between initiator and initiate, in the spiritual tradition of India as well as in many esoteric spiritual paths of the world, has given rise in modern philosophers the question "Why should another be accepted as spiritual guide? or guru? " Is not man gifted with sufficient intelligence to discern between what is necessary and what is not beneficial to him? Can't he choose for himself in any area of life?
Surely man is endowed with reason and enough will to determine and change his own destiny. Even more, traditional sacred texts state that the ultimate aspect of every being is of a divine nature, so God himself represents the guide that is within each man. So what is an external guru for? Isn't it enough for man to listen to the voice of the inner guide, rather than submit to another who, after all, is also as mortal as any other man? Are there not so many examples of yogis, saints and mystics who had no guru and yet achieved liberation by following their inner guidance?
It is true that every man has within him the divine spark, the spiritual Self. But how many human beings can feel it and realize its presence? How many can open up to receive its guidance? Man, as he manifests himself in the present time on earth, has a vision limited by the ignorance in which he delights and cannot go very far on his own, either to the high aspects or to the depths of his soul. The illusion, which is an effect of ignorance, acts so strongly on his senses that it is very easy for such a man to err and listen to the voice of his lower ego by believing that this is the voice of the Divine Self. Theoretically it is possible to become aware of our inner guidance and to evolve on the spiritual path alone, as among other things it has been demonstrated by some special beings in the history of humanity. But generally this truth is limited in its application due to the immaturity of human consciousness at its present stage of development.
The ideal of the human guru or spiritual guide in the Indian tradition is to be able to fulfill another human being's aspiration for profound spiritual transformation. Such a living teacher has already traveled the spiritual path chosen by the seeker and is able to show the seeker the direction, and also has the power to convey to the disciple the truth of his experience and realization. Then he makes the spiritual ideal of the aspirant become alive and dynamic, initiating him in knowing the truth and stimulating him towards practice, to facilitate the progressive concretization of these aspects in the life of the disciple; without such a teacher it is almost impossible to attain ultimate realization. The spiritual field is still an area little explored by the habitual human consciousness and if we do not want to get lost on this large and high territory we must appeal to a guru who can lead us directly to the goal.
A Master's Guide in the Tantric Way
The Tantras clearly state that no man can advance on the spiritual path without help. Man will be able to read many books, practice austerities, reach astounding paranormal abilities, but the reading of sacred texts remains sterile mental knowledge and the ritual becomes mechanical routine if these are not energized and made aware thanks to the personality of a guru. Only those acts inspired in the disciple by his master can bring Bhakti (devotion) and Mukti (liberation). Even if a human being is endowed with special qualities and an ardent aspiration, he nevertheless needs someone who stimulates him spiritually, who induces him that force (Shakti) that will make him act without error and always follow the right path (even in areas that are beyond human understanding). This help is offered by the spiritual guide. Whatever the nature of his sadhana (spiritual practice), be it the way of meditation, dhyana, ritual devotion, puja or mantra-puja, it is always the guru who initiates, guides and leads the aspirant towards realization. last.
What is the role of a teacher?
The indispensability of a guru-shishya (master-disciple) relationship appeared in this age of rationalism or mere superstition. Although each of us holds this sort of divine light within us, there are still too few who can perceive its presence. How can one open up to receive His teaching?
In the spiritual realm, as in other areas, a valuable guide with authentic, profound knowledge, endowed with rich experience offered to us at the appropriate time, can help us immensely not to waste too much time and not to waste energy and futile efforts. He can also help us eliminate suffering and the possibility of failure.
He also knows how to act wisely to eliminate our bad habits, which would then be obstacles to our ascent, while at the same time facilitating the awakening and amplification of the qualities that will simplify our ascent.
In reality, the role of a spiritual master is to accompany us on the spiritual path to the end, that one end which is the Infinite, or which some call GOD.
Often, once engaged in a genuine spiritual quest, we find ourselves disoriented and confused, not knowing what the next step is. Here is the urgent need for a teacher. In fact, in any job, in any field, those who have assimilated a respective teaching will then go on to teach and share their experience with others. Therefore, in each of us there is the perfect image of a being who "knows everything and can do everything" and to whom we can refer to fulfill a particular purpose. This image actually corresponds to our master's ideal.
The ideal of guru in the Indian tradition is represented by a being able to satisfy the aspiration of profound spiritual transformation of another being. Such a bona fide teacher has already walked the chosen spiritual path as a seeker and is able to show its direction, having the occult power to convey to the disciple the truth of his experience and its realization.
In reality, he revives and dynamizes the aspirant's spiritual ideal, that is, spiritual liberation and perfection, initiating him to the knowledge of the truth and at the same time pushing him towards practice, to facilitate a progressive concretization of these aspects in the life of the disciple.
Without such a teacher it is almost impossible to attain Ultimate Realization. The spiritual domain is an area little explored by the common human conscience and if we do not want to get lost in this vast territory, we must appeal to a teacher who knows it and who can lead us directly to the goal.
Dependence and independence in the master-disciple relationship
Since each spiritual guide or guru personally leads the disciple towards the realization of the divine SUPREME self, through the path that best suits the person in question, the disciple must find his own teacher and then, once recognized, dedicate himself to him to the end. . It is not a question of fanaticism or any other form of proselytism, as one would tend to believe, but only of an ancient authentic tradition, verified by the time that has offered the expected results. For a Western mind, it is rather difficult to accept. But if you find a true master, free from the conditioning of this ephemeral world and who knows the secrets of the universe in which we live, the situation changes.
Surely you have asked yourself many questions during this lifetime. And only a small part has found an answer. Now imagine that you have met a person who holds all the keys and all the answers. Do you think you can give up his advice and guidance? Not at all. You have always asked for his advice and help, knowing that what you are doing is fine and on the right path.
This could be equivalent to a first phase of the evolution of the relationship between disciple and teacher. You might see it as some kind of addiction, but we would rather call it LISTEN. In this phase we are like a child who learns to walk and constantly requires the support of the father.
With time, the situation changes, because the more the disciple assimilates experience, the more he must be able to "walk on his own legs".
A true teacher does not cause his disciples to become dependent on him, even if they apparently fully respect his will.
As we evolve spiritually we become more and more independent, because we begin to understand correctly how divine laws work and we are able to make the best decisions for our spiritual evolution. The initial dependence of a disciple on his spiritual master is and must be strictly temporary. As spiritual evolution begins to occur, the disciple must gradually become autonomous.
How to find your own teacher or spiritual guide?
The Indian spiritual tradition states that "When the disciple is ready, the master appears". What we have to do is just want to meet him with our whole soul, and also begin a severe internal discipline that creates the premises for the appearance of the master in our life. In fact we speak of an intense spiritual quest, an effervescent desire to strive to be successful and to know our true self.
On this path you will find various people who you will think are masters. But the Master is only one. And beware, it is often possible to make mistakes. There are many charlatans who are ready to offer "support" in exchange for certain benefits.
You say it is difficult to discern who your true teacher is. But you will see that meeting him will give you greater understanding and a feeling that will make you realize that it is really him or her.