“To know a thing, you must become that thing. You can know nothing outside of yourself, but you are everything.” ~ unknown.
Guru- remover of darkness, bringer of light, a.k.a. one who kicks out the stupid.
My desire to find a Guru has always taken up a lot of space in my consciousness. As one who touts a fairly serious yoga practice, having a spiritual guide seemed the only thing missing.
It is believed that when you are ready, a Guru will show up. And, not only will one show up, but he or she will be perfect for you. Your very own personal Guru. Holy cow! I mean, who thought that up? It is genius –– brilliant. The clever maker-upper of this ideological promise deserves respect, or at least an authentic tip of the hat.
I have always been attracted to this idea, which is why I so highly revere that which promulgated it into existence. And the ‘guru-envy’ that I experience when learning that someone, other than myself, has found her personal Guru, curiously continues to plague me.
I mean, what could be more exciting than having someone show up –– just showing up is in and of itself a feat worthy of praise –– who can help you move through your darkness, your perceived obstacles to enlightenment?
Now call me needy if you must, but I look at it this way. Somehow, something, somewhere out there gave us these Gurus: Jesus, Buddha, Krishna not to mention John Lennon, Bob Dylan and Salvador Dali to name a few, who are awake enough to be able to bring us into a state of remembrance or unity consciousness. And, apparently, all we need to do is, get ready.
Well, yippee because getting ready is what I do best.
I mean, I get ready for the day by drinking coffee. I get ready for practicing yoga by putting on my yoga clothes, gathering up my Manduka mat and donning my Mala beads. I get ready to cook by drinking a glass of wine. I get ready to write by talking about it. And, I get ready for enlightenment by practicing various ‘you-are-sure-to-be-enlightened-after-practicing-this-technique-I-promise’ enlightenment techniques.
It seems, I am always getting ready to live or die or whatever it is I am always getting ready to do. So, where is my Guru –– because I am more than ready?
Hmm. Perhaps, I have misjudged. Maybe, just maybe, I have it all wrong. Perhaps, what I really need to do is to actually be ready. Maybe I have spent a little too much time with the getting ready part.
So, one day awhile back, I was at the park to trot (a little faster pace than walking but cannot quite be called a jog) and I was totally delighted, even excited to be there. The outdoors is so inviting. I was completely and thoroughly wrapped up in my aloneness. The solitude was addicting. I have always enjoyed being with myself, however, so this was no surprise.
Imagine my frustration when only a few minutes into my satisfying experience, I heard behind me, and not too far in the distance, the rantings of our local (some have dubbed him lunatic, but I always found that somewhat harsh, though part of me, I must admit, concurred) apparently unmedicated, schizophrenic.
Now, I am not one to dispassionately condemn a man or woman for lacking in ability to conform to social norms –– a much nicer way to describe mental instability. God knows, I have had my own struggles, but did I have to put up with this bellicose and excessively verbose disruption of my quiet moving meditation?
The interesting thing here is that almost immediately after I called into question this man’s character and how his presence would affect me, I felt a sense of guilt, shame and even embarrassment. As a touted yogi, the thoughts and feelings I was experiencing brought a cognitive dissonance that served to shove those irreverent complainers completely under the surface.
Perhaps, this fellow who perceived things quite a bit differently than most, would be able to offer something up. Could I open myself up to the possibility that I could learn? That everyone was a Guru of sorts?
Instead of ‘getting’ ready for a Guru, could I ‘be’ ready? Well yes, I believed that I could. As I think back on this, I realize how unfortunate it was that, as a proclaimer of non-attachment and non-judgement, I had to talk myself into interacting with another human being in a way that required a moment-to-moment- suspension-of-judgement presence, and then only for my own selfish gain. But, what can I say, this is just how it was.
What light could I glean from an encounter with the man who was infamous for his outspoken opinions? Ones that frequently led to bursts of rage and then quickly shifted from
one topic to the next without any clear demarcation? I knew this because he was frequently a ‘caller-inner’ on the local radio talk-show. This is also one of the reasons why everyone knew of him.
However, I would often turn him off without really listening to what he had to say because of the way in which he said it. I had no tolerance for what I perceived was unjust anger and ear-hurting loudness. In fact, when he called in, I would roll my eyes, sigh, and resign myself to my self-righteous belief that he was obviously ignorant, mentally unhealthy, and had nothing to offer that I cared to hear. Wasn’t he was just another one of those small-minded, “the world will end soon if we don’t change our ways“, religious, conservatives who could not think beyond his own fears? I felt I was way better than him.
Well, I didn’t have much time to contemplate these harsh judgments for long, because without too much preparation there he was, trotting beside me –– he was forced to slow his pace down considerably, but as he learned I was a willing listener, he was keen to do it.
So, there we were. Him and me. Trotting in the park. Having a conversation. Well, it was more or less me listening to him switch from one really intense topic to the next, but I did occasionally get a word in. And actually, as I listened to him, I mean, really listened, I began to connect his thoughts and understand what it was he was saying, why he was saying it, and, more importantly, why he was saying it in the way he was saying it.
Turns out, he isn’t ignorant (quite the contrary), crazy, narrow-minded, fearful, or even unjustifiably angry after all –– those are adjectives that better describe me.
I do remember telling him that he should try getting quiet every now and again and actually listen to what some else had to say. He told me that no-one had ever said that to him before and that he would give it some serious thought. I liked that. I thought that was nice. It made me feel wicked warm to have offered up something that was informative, because he was absolutely informing me.
Well, you know, we talked about all sorts of things and I was learning so much and having such a good time that I cannot even begin to tell you. It was fantastic. He was removing some of my darkness. Whoa. He was, in those moments, my personal Guru. Had I been ready?
How cathartic. How absolutely intentionally unintended that was. I recognized and allowed myself the opportunity to experience information that ordinarily would have been difficult for me to internalize and accommodate. In essence, I chose my reality. I opened the gift placed before me. The gift of being present with another human being that I had previously felt had nothing of value to offer me. I suspended judgement, came into the moment, and tasted the honey of transcendence that is a natural outpouring of present centered awareness.
You may think that I exaggerate this chance meeting with my temporary Guru, but you are wrong. And, the pinnacle of this experience was that as we neared the end of the park’s path, knowing that I would go my way and he would go his, we made eye contact –– I saw infinity in those eyes.
In that instant, which was absolutely timeless, I literally became him and he me. There was no distinction between where his manifested form began and ended and my manifested form began and ended. Our molecules, all spacious and vibrating, commingled as one unified organism experiencing ’Christ Consciousness’ as it relates to “I am in you and you are in me”. We were residing in the Tao, the Way, the Buddha.
As I left the park that day, I walked freakishly suspended about an inch or so off of the ground. I felt uniquely different, remarkably changed –– which is so interesting because what I experienced felt so easy, so natural. The significance of the experience made me cry. In a matter of 20 remarkable and precious minutes, this ordinary man had brought me out of the darkness and into the light. He had kicked the ‘stupid’ right out of me.
Editor: Lindsay Friedman
Jeri Senor has been “yoga-ing” for nearly 30 years now. Her newest Guru is the incredible organisms that reside in her backyard… her beehives. She has learned how to better listen to and take notice of Nature which, in effect, has revealed the absolute undeniable inter-connectedness of all things. (A form of this article has been previously published in WNC Woman.)