The “Guru is Within” & More Blah de Blah Blah Blah.

Via on Jun 27, 2012

I am a devotee of the Indian hugging Saint known affectionately as Amma, or more formally as Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (The Mother of Immortal Bliss).

She is currently on her North American tour, a trek she has been making for over twenty years.

(Check out the tour dates: http://amma.org.)

I met Amma in 2001 after having heard of her several years before. You see, by the time I was introduced to Amma, I had already been engaged in a meditation practice since 1983 (when I was 19 years old), and had many years of being on the path. I thought I would go to see what the big fuss was all about.

At the time, I was like many other seekers. I had concepts about what real spirituality was—the techniques, the real truth, the asanas, breath, tapas—the work. No gurus needed, thank you very much.

I was teaching yoga and studying/practicing Vedic astrology and Vedanta and well acquainted with the non-dualistic “philosophy.” I would go on and on about how “God is everywhere anyway, so why do we need to go to a guru—the guru is within. We are all divine beings, and on and on.”

Yet, day-to-day, the truth was, although I was doing deep meditations and my practices were fulfilling, I was still like most around me, disconnected from the heart. My spiritual practices were also a sort of armor, helping me safely navigate life and avoid the hotspots. They were even a function of ego. There was a feeling of superiority in them at times, like most I know (sorry, just being honest). I did not really know this until I began spending time with Ma.

I thought I was honoring the divine in all things, until I got around Ma, and saw these things in action—expressed by a true, living master. I was not really honoring others as divine (or myself either). There were a lot of well intended words and concepts about selfless love and the heart, but my practices were actually very dry.

The Guru is Within, But Are We?

All great masters say the same thing, that the guru is within. But until we are established within, we will not feel it. This is why a master, a Mahatma (Great Soul) takes a form—for us. She is always there (as are all the great Mahatmas), whether in a body or not. She is just an incarnation of universal love realized, which is omnipresent. But because we live so much through the body/mind structure, they incarnate for us in that form we recognize.

The result of interacting with a life form that appears the same as other life forms has an effect on our mind that no philosophy reaches.

We notice immediately the different quality of that being in relation to other beings and ourselves. The endless compassion, tireless work, the towering comprehension of all workings of the ego, and remarkably—a personal connection to all. Amma regularly sits 10-20 hours at a time, with no food or bathroom break—hugging all that come before her.

Everyone who has spent time with Amma knows that although she serves millions (having hugged 31 million people), she also knows exactly who you are. It is incomprehensible on all levels. Your intellect simply crumbles underneath the weight of this miracle. For this reason, it is repeated over and over in Indian teachings that the most fortunate event in a human life is to find a satguru in the body—a living example of all we are aspiring to.

The Guru—Not a Substitute—A Culmination

Connecting to a living guru is not a form of intellectual enslavement. It is not a substitute for any of the work we have to do. Rather, it is a culmination of those actions (sadhana) and a connection to one who is embodying the truth we are seeking to embody.

Spending a lot of time with Amma, or other Mahtamas is actually very hard because they are like standing in front of a mirror, a very active one. Imagine if the mirror had a volume knob on it and if the knob was more like a “contrast” knob, where the dark gets darker and the light gets lighter.

Gurus like Amma are often compared to the sun. The sun brings light, which reveals color and aliveness, but also shadows and dirt. When the room is dark it is easy to not clean up the dirt in the corners. We may not see it or even know it’s there. My experiences about spirituality were like that. I thought the room was clean. But once we turn on the light, we see all of the mess—the dirt, the roaches, the neglect. Then, we have to make a conscious choice to either clean it up, or turn the light back off.

The beauty, compassion and selfless love of the guru is so compelling that even if you try to turn the light back off, and return to sleep, you can’t so easily. The truth of the guru, and its connection to your truthful self will haunt the puny ego. The soul recognizes the purity of the Mahatma as a communion with its own nature. I have witnessed many egos for many years avoid meeting Amma, always finding an excuse to be busy then, or conceptualizing it with the “Guru within” philosophy.

I think that is a good strategy for an ego that wants to survive in tact. It is wise to avoid the sun and scrutiny. As for me, it is a never-ending opening to love and letting go of the familiar. I am eternally grateful to have met a true master in this lifetime. The direct transmission of love from those amazing eyes to mine has healed me in ways I surely do not grasp.

Such a beautiful mirror to the guru within.

~

Editor: Brianna Bemel

 

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About Sam Geppi

Sam Geppi is a Vedic astrologer, and teacher. He is the author of "The Ascendant-108 Planets of Vedic Astrology." You can learn more about the universe and why astrology makes sense by checking out his Free Astrology Class CD, his Facebook and his Membership Website.

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Comments

87 Responses to “The “Guru is Within” & More Blah de Blah Blah Blah.”

  1. korina says:

    (met her in 2000) i dream of her often. when i meditate thinking about her, sometimes i cry like a baby. i so would love to visit india or tour with her. but i can't. so i carry her in my heart, always in my mind. i guess that's what it means for me, the inner part. it took a long time for me to feel like that. for me, truly, she is within.

  2. ordinarysparrow says:

    Thanks for this one… deeply resonate and agree…very similar experiences with my own… how easy it is for the egoic become spiritualized ….

  3. Bavani says:

    Some Kiss We Want

    There is some kiss we want with
    our whole lives, the touch of
    spirit on the body.

    Seawater
    begs the pearl to break its shell.

    And the lily, how passionately
    it needs some wild darling!

    At night, I open the window and ask
    the moon to come and press its
    face against mine.

    Breathe into me.

    Close the language-door and
    open the love window.
    The moon
    won't use the door, only the window.
    –Rumi. Translator: Coleman Barks

  4. SVS says:

    Awesome article!

  5. Michael says:

    the Guru is within. some people need an external Guru to tell them that, and some don't. for some, sitting with an external Guru is a lesson in disappointment, in realizing that looking outside was never the answer. for some, it is uplifting, indicative of an experience of wanting that knowledge without being willing to take responsibility for one's own path.

    it is fine to follow a proscribed path. it will not get you closer to yourself. nothing can get you closer to yourself.

    it is fine to wander into maya. you cannot move further from yourself. there is no distance between you and yourself.

    it is fine to love, and to not love. it is fine to dance, and to not dance. you cannot diverge from your own path.

    the realization that may come, or not, is that no one reveals your light or shadow, your purity or filth, except yourself. in fact, you've been aware of it the whole time. you neither need to clean yourself up nor turn off the light. you can simply sit in the reality of your self as both purity and filth. for those who are seekers, who seek something outside of themselves, growth and change are important activities. for those who accept, who are seeking nothing, growth and change happen.

    it is not nobler for a soul to be near its point of casting off flesh, than still in the beginning lessons of form, any more than a rose is nobler than a rosebud, or the stem as it breaks ground.

  6. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    all an expression of the classic guru model, which clearly you are getting something out of right now.

    for what it is worth, i have known several ex-amma folks and it has taken them a lot of work to overcome the mind control and manipulation of even this benign seeming cult.

    this article <a href="http://(http://www.cultnews.com/?cat=4)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.cultnews.com/?cat=4) sums up some of the problems which should give anyone with sound critical thinking pause – but of course the loophole for people on the guru trip is that critical thinking is just "the ego," right? that's how they get you….

    but then again if one was using critical thinking astrology would probably have to be questioned a bit more deeply too! :)

    this book i reviewed last week is truly the most powerful shot in the arm around questioning authoritarian systems – which for me is at the heart of authentic spirituality: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/06/the-dark-s

  7. DaveTelf says:

    I was lucky enough to be drawn to meet Amma one night in Washington DC in the summer of '07.

    It was spur of the moment, entirely serendipitous, and just those few hours in the same vicinity with her left a profound imprint; the whole experience was a huge boost in vibration. After having been hugged, with whispered mantras still humming in my ears, I was abuzz, almost stunned with supernal Love.

    Two years later, having never really done much yoga, I was drawn to seek out an extended work-study program at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, CA, where I was introduced to Vedic Astrology by Sam himself.

    It is truly a boon in any lifetime to cross paths with a great soul. Never underestimate the power of darshan.

    Thank you for this heartfelt article Sam.

  8. samgeppi says:

    Thanks folks for the comments.

    DaveTelf – i so remember your rapt attention at the Ashram!

    Thanks Michael for your heartfelt comments and commentaries on your experience. I agree with a lot of what you wrote. You know something funny, I usually feel her essence (of peace and connection) much more when she is NOT present to me in form. I love being near her form though as well, because it is so deep and joyous (and hard). Spending time with her form is like a pilgrimage to India, or something. While you are there, you are dealing with a lot – and do not really integrate the practices fully until you come home and get to connect to Self on the mat again. Only then do you actually realize what the pilgrimage opened in you.

  9. Nalini G says:

    A Satguru is definitely essential on the path.. The Ego is so cunning..The Guru is the light that leads us back to the self (god) within! Humility is so so important! Ammas shakti is very very powerful. I have been fortunate in this life to have spent time with another Great Soul, Satguru Bodhnatha Veylanswami, of the Kailasa parampara. When you are in the presence of such high minded souls, its life changing and when you are sincere the Guru is always with you! Jai Satgurus!!
    Wonderful article Sadasiva, you are so blessed to have such a beautiful Satguru such as Amma!
    Aumnamahsivaya!

  10. Sarah Pamplin Watkins says:

    Beautiful article, Sam Sadasiva Geppi! I have always admired your love and devotion for your guru, Amma. I have been blessed to see her in physical form on a few different occassions, and it has always been an unforgettable and powerful experience.

    I am thankful for my guru too. I love how you wrote, “Gurus like Amma are often compared to the sun. The sun brings light, which reveals color and aliveness, but also shadows and dirt. When the room is dark it is easy to not clean up the dirt in the corners. We may not see it or even know it’s there. My experiences about spirituality were like that. I thought the room was clean. But once we turn on the light, we see all of the mess—the dirt, the roaches, the neglect. Then, we have to make a conscious choice to either clean it up, or turn the light back off.”

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, wisdom, love and purity of heart with all of us. I am thankful for you too.

    Love.

  11. M says:

    To those who say its a cult. There is no such thing as cult, only cult minded people.

    There is the master: one who is realized

    And those who surround or the organization around the master or realized one.

    Those who surround are the quagmire mind. In varying degrees of darkness the sat guru does not discern to withhold their grace.

    It is like a stream that flows through a forest it is abundant many types come and go. A murderer, perhaps some villain. The stream goes on flowing. They may get some idea to even package the water, to sell it, to damn it but the water continues as long as it can.

    The issue is not the water. It is the mind.

    All get attracted like a moth to a flame.

    people are naturally attracted it is like the love of a loving mother their is no reason, no explanation.

    Some go to take something, some for an idea. Some get sucked into the politics of any human organization, and some really dive deep, they use it as a true yogi, or in true tantra like a springboard a outer reflection an experiential one reflecting our highest self… They use that to unify with their param Atma, their divine nature, their true self.

    Everyone is doing this to a degree though we are unconscious of it. We eat a sweet, it awakens a sweet feeling in us and again we look for sweet, in fact our whole life we search it out. It matters not what we are doing, whether meeting friends, going on a trip, working for a promotion. These things we do to collect those sweet experiences which bring us satisfaction. Even by abstaining these their is a sweetness as their is an inherent sweetness within us we are connecting. But not matter whether internal or external we are in a process like it or not because we are alive we are always in movement moment to moment in action. And inherently all for experiencing satisfaction and peace of mind.

    Though we might not go about it always rightly. whether like or not we are in a world of experience, and through this outer we connect to our inner. It is a Dance. All Is guru, a teacher however one who has fully embodied that experience of merging, of living in that experience of satisfaction. Just in their presence alone that part within us is awakened. With everything in the cosmos it is true. Everything has an experience that awakens that experience within us. Food for example. Seeing a beautiful flower, a grumpy person, a happy person. When you connect with that outer thing in stimulates that experience within you, the more you are open to it, the more it stimulates it. It is guru in a sense.

    It is interesting that We are so opposed to guru but the truth is it is not an idea. Idea of guru is good to oppose as is any idea by itself being from mind. But the experience of it is something else it can’t be denied, even if you wanted to because it is just happening, there within you.

    Now you can say arrogantly, “it’s happening within me” it’s just me. In a sense it’s true but the catalyst of the object was a part of that experience. The experience was yours but it was catalyzed by the flower. And that you even has that experience of beauty is not yours. It is a gift, it is a grace, that moment you were able to experience that flower and say wow! This is a grace.

    The interesting thing is we are so against the concept of guru, however that concept applies in our own lives daily.

    A food can awaken an experience in us however a human from that direct experience of love or a feeling or understanding surpasses that times a thousand.

    Everyday we are surrounded by examples.

    If we want to learn math we go to a math teacher. Someone who knows it well. Or a musician, we go to a music teacher. If we want to learn a trade we apprentice, we learn by spending time with someone experienced to learn the ropes.

    However now we bring it to the head we are so knowledge focused. We think it is knowledge we are getting from the teacher, when truly it is their experience they are imparting.

    If you just sit and hear about how to construct a building or a lecture from a teacher who just knows how to lecture. You will understand only to that depth. You won’t retain it and you will need to experience with great trial and error.

    And may or may not eventually get it. If someone who is experienced it teaches you it is quite different, they embody that experience, they know it in and out and just spending time with them and their knowing you pick it up too, quickly… This is the same as having a guru.

    If it is a forced relation or some idea, then it is dangerous.

    Then also you can put some idea to create a unhealthy dynamic by putting stock into an idea of a person and often an off cookoo person.

    Or you will go crazy from all these weird ideas and expectations.

    The feeling is different. There if you truly connect, even the person can be off but you are connecting to a feeling there’s something connecting you to your own self that is different.

    But with a saint like Amma, it’s not that she has amassed all these people through some idea. Just her being alone her immense love. Some stil may not be open to it that’s ok. sometimes she even attracts opposite, as mentioned above, those who want to kill… Even her, the light attracts dark.

    But that experience of love itself once experienced. It is beyond logic. It is the true guru, that she embodies and we are blessed just as we are with great tradesmen to be in the presence with one who embodies this and who can guide us through example, to our own true heart.

  12. Sarah Pamplin Watkins says:

    Beautifully written, M. I know who you are from reading your writing! <3

  13. Sam, I really appreciate you for sharing your direct experience with your Amma. I think more people need to be exposed to the deep compassion that she models for us.

  14. Bettina says:

    Sam, I'm thankful you are sharing your experiences, particular for some of us (less fortunate), who for some reason are not (yet) able to experience the love and enlightenment from a Satguru. You are an extending light of Amma, yet bringing your own light, wisdom and your Jyotish teachings to us. Forever grateful… thank you! <3

  15. […] The “Guru is Within” & More Blah de Blah Blah Blah. (elephantjournal.com) […]

  16. __MikeG__ says:

    This post and the majority of the responses make me want to cry for humanity. This article is an classic example of a perfect storm guru hucksterism, magical thinking and a desperate need to submit to a perceived authority.

  17. Jade Doherty says:

    I'm quite shocked to see an article about Amma here. The idea of having a Guru seems quite unpopular in the new age/yoga movement. Guru seems almost like a dirty word that makes westerners feel inferior to some kind of better, more godly being.

    I've met Amma a few times and have to say that my life has changed considerably since meeting her. Totes agree with what you said about it being hard to be around gurus, I find she stirs my shit up every time I see her!

    Funny that we can bang on about the Vedas, ShivaShakti stuff, and quote an infinite amount of dead gurus, but when we have the chance to meet one whose alive we don't know how to handle it!

  18. sarmada says:

    thank you so much for this fabulous piece about Amma and the importance of a Satguru. it always amazes me that westerners are so freaked out by the idea of an enlightened being, being able to help us to conquer ego. Anyone who has a chance to meet Amma should do it and at least give it a chance with an open mind and an open heart.

  19. __MikeG__ says:

    This article and most of the posts are prime examples of adults embracing the spirituality of childish concepts. Adult spirituality does not need pseudo mommy or daddy figures to give people meaning to their lives. Adult spirituality does not infer "enlightened" status on ordinary human beings. Reality should be ones friend. Belief in magic is not only unnecessary but counterproductive.

    It is way past time that we all move past magical thinking and supernatural gurus. Until we do we will continue to be mired in the swamp of thought contained in this article.

  20. So, if the Guru wasn't within us, how is it that you have written this article? Who wrote the article, a ghost? The truth is that supreme enlightenment is within everyone. We experience it from time to time. To experience it, and to bask in the knowledge, in your inner knowledge, then to question the existence of it is the worst kind of theft.

  21. jody says:

    The fact is, you could take a rock, and if you truly believed that rock was enlightened, it could do everything for you that Amma appears to do. The phenomenon of the "Satguru" is little more than another manifestation of the placebo effect. Unfortunately, the idea of the Satguru had done more to prevent enlightenment than all the brothels and drug dens in the world combined.

  22. ex_Non-Hindu says:

    No matter what happens – however much a non-Indian may embrace some "guru" or read Sanskrit, or study Vedanta, or dress in Vedic garb, or do puja or whatever practice – a non-Indian will never be a Hindu, and will never be respected as such and will always be a mlecca who is outside of Sanatana Dharma. A non-Indian will always be considered a non-Hindu (a person outside of the vanashram-dharma) and will (for example)never, ever be allowed into Guruvayoor bhuloka-vaikundham, the most important temple in Amachi's home state of Kerala. Western people should stop deluding theselves that they ever will become Hindu.

  23. Gypsy Wise says:

    Jillian and Mike make great points and I want to support thir overall message. It is to think critically and magical thinking is magical thinking.

    I don’t doubt that people experience an energetic response to meeting some people. You don’t need to be around a “guru” to have one. I am sure there are plenty of people that feel a similar charge from meeting a favorite celebrity.

    There is lots of neuro science supporting the energic nature of meditation. It does not support that it is outside the reach of most humans or only available within a few. Nor does it mean that one is enlightened because the can control their brain. It actually shows that we can all learn to do it. Kinda makes less magical if everyone has access to it.

    When Jillian talks about critical thinking she is addressing you ability to question what is wrong along with what is right. If this woman Amma, and there seem to be a few who have taken the title, why has she limited her mirical to hugging her way into the world record books? Why hasn’t she cured poverty, even a little in one of the most impoverished countries in the world? Helped the plight of farmers killing themselves to the tune of 250,000 because of shame? I would thinkthat one would make her radar.

    When you give away your personal power to people of little dy to day consequence you can then make a lot of excuses when it goes wrong. I see very few people that follow these leaders in any form, be it guru, Christian or else take full responsibility in their wn lives because the are so willing to give it away. That is the authoritarian belief system that allows people to have power over you.

    Jillian and Mike are right….

  24. vikers says:

    im a hindu and i dont give a shit …

    so to all those who argue – go on with your shit and leave this magic stuff to us hindus – and those of you who want to be part of it – come in for a while into the circus tent like little children, sit down and enjoy the show. maybe buy some ice cream, candy floss and play with all the fun stuff in the circus.

    while the arguing public can try and do some 'hot or power or whatever you brand it sequence ' yogic pose and get scientific with it.

    science begins with magic … just like music … or art … and that is life.

    boring people who dont like circus can leave the show … the hindu rope trick is on !!!

  25. Karen Jonson says:

    Sam Geppi, I can do you one better — my "guru" was a JAGADguru!!! Do you know what that means? It means he is the guru of the whole f-ing universe.

    And as a result of my 15 years of association with him, I can say the following with utter confidence and probably a lot more insight than you have: ALL gurus are frauds! There you have it — your AHA! moment if you have the strength to accept it. That's if Amma hasn't taken all of your personal power away from you. Because that is ALL that she or any other so-called guru has — the power you gave them to control your mind and heart.

    Julian and Mike have got it 100% correct. And you and everyone who supports the guru magic have it 100% wrong. The reason you can’t find the divine in yourself, is because what you really want is a fairy tale. If you could handle the truth, you wouldn’t need to look outside of yourself.

    It’s just sad to hear people talk so childishly about their guru mommies and daddies. It makes me remember when I was a deluded, brainwashed devotee of Kripalu Maharaj, the self-titled jagadguru. Turns out he’s a child rapist, sex addict, and money-hungry narcissist. His disciple, Prakashanand Saraswati, lured me in, and now he’s in hiding after being convicted of child molestation. I wrote all about them in my memoir Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus.

    My advice: Look behind the curtain and find out exactly who the person you worship really is – if you dare!

    Karen Jonson, ex-cult member

  26. […] meditation, wisdom and insight appear of their own accord, without a “how” or a “why” attached to them. A series of feelings and […]

  27. Auki says:

    There are some seriously hostile replies posted here to Sam's tender-hearted article. The hostile and arrogant tone of the various comments tells me everything I need to know about the folks making the comments. God help us!

    For the record, I'm with Sam!

  28. Cerealbox says:

    Does she do these tours for free? or do you have to pay tons of money to meet her?…

  29. Lakshmi says:

    There are terrible frauds out there…this is true of just about everything in our Kali Yuga….that darkness masquerades as truth and many people will fall under its spell….that is certainly true of "yoga" in general in our modern world. But just because there are false gurus…even evil ones, doesn't mean that there aren't true "sadgurus" A guru is a teacher. Why should we be so arrogant as to think that there aren't teachers out there with more knowledge than what we have? If I want to learn an instrument, I would go to an accomplished, established musician. I would respect their superior knowledge and I would accept them as my teacher. I wouldn't assume that I can learn it all on my own. Some people may be self taught. And some may even go fairly far being self-taught. But even a self-taught person could learn something from a maestro with a little humility. What is wrong with that? There are experts in every field, including spirituality. There are genuine teachers out there. I consider Amma to be my guru as well…and yes, I consider her to be so because of a series of "magical" synchronicities that honestly defy any rational explanation. I'm a pretty rational person, but these events were too unlikely and improbable to be purely random coincidence…it was striking enough to hit a rational person like me over the head. I don't feel that I've given up any personal "power: to Amma at all. In fact, I consider myself to be a pretty lousy devotee. Yet I don't doubt for a moment my experiences of her….and that has given me something that I can't measure or explain.

  30. Kiva says:

    The guru debate is always an interesting one. All kinds of people swear by a guru and there are those on the opposite end of the spectrum who scoff at the idea of giving their power away. Since there is a long history of the guru-disciple in Indian spirituality at least, it would be hard to say that it never works, because it does in many cases. But at the same time, there are so many frauds. I just read about another one yesterday in India who was exposed for abusing his devotees. So I can totally understand why people would be jaded about gurus. After all, could it be any worse than your spiritual teacher taking advantage of you. I've heard of people who just completely gave up on the path after finding out their guru is a fraud.

    Going it alone is the safe way, but finding a teacher you trust can be quite helpful since they can answer your questions and help you get over obstacles. There are also in between routes, like finding a guru that has already passed and just reading his books, watching videos. I find books on their own can do a lot to transmit teachings.

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