My teacher has said you can have many teachers but only one guru.
A friend says, “I get really “high” when I visit so-and-so and feel they help my spiritual work along. I hear that a lot from people who get “high” and “blissed out” from teachers who operate at a very high vibrational level.
What I have also seen is that these students become habituated to the “high” and must, like an addict, always return for the same feelings. Just like addiction, that “high” ultimately rebounds to a low and then they go searching for another teacher or “high.”
My friend Marie travels from workshop to workshop always looking for that new high. In fact, when life or someone disappoints her, she runs off to another blissful encounter with another teacher. Fortunately for her, she has the money to continue endless treks to these workshops. It’s obvious to me that she is trying to escape feeling bad and for that, I am sad for her.
“Well,” says another friend. “Can’t the same thing happen with a guru? Don’t you also feel that same high vibrational feeling of inspiration and enlightenment and then return to the same feelings of despair, etc.?”
The honest answer is yes.
The difference is that as a committed chela or disciple, you begin to understand that there is no endless bliss in the relationship. Oh, initially, like a honeymoon, there is that feeling, but for the most part, it is similar to a marriage, happy and blissful at first, and then the work begins.
The good fortune of being a disciple to a guru is that your guru is willing to help you carry that endless burden you bear just from being born until you can be relieved of it through your efforts and grace. Lucky enough to have a guru in the flesh, you can present yourself to them time and time again, even when you do not even like yourself.
Your courage as disciples comes from your willingness to commit to present your habituated responses or ego until awareness dissolves them before unconditional love.
While feeling that unconditional love which is Guru’s gift, you still have to sustain and figure out your own work and method of showing love to yourself by your own discipline, whether it be yoga, service to others, martial arts, breath work or relationship commitment. And with any lifelong marriage or commitment, you still need to carry out the garbage, earn a living and feed the kids.
The only thing a Guru wants is for us to love ourselves as she loves us.
What does it mean to love oneself? While our personal attempts at self-discipline help, it ultimately means losing our egos by caring and serving for others as we care for ourselves. We are called to service since it is what the guru ultimately does for everybody. In fact, that’s really how you know your teacher is authentic. An imposter only serves himself.
A Big Misconception: Many people think that gurus tell you what to do and you give them your power. Au contraire. I remember one day looking at my guru with what I thought was submission in my eyes; she returned that look with a look of disdain. I got it quickly that this was not what she was looking for from me. It is her desire that I will come to love myself unconditionally and be strong enough to make my own choices. However, her inspiration, love and example enable me to make better choices in my life.
Finally, even though my guru is my guide and inspiration, I must eventually make the journey myself.
It is an ego dissolving one, stepping into the ocean of spirituality like a salt doll and disappearing. My guru Ma Jaya has always said to not be afraid of this place, because when we return from the ocean, she will be there by the shore to accompany us back to this life.
Editor: Hayley Samuelson
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