You’re on Your Own.
I’ve been giving some thought to gurus, teachers and our relationships with them. I’ve been thinking about our tendency to give away our power. To invest heavily in someone else seems to reduce our ability to invest in ourselves.
The conclusion I’ve come to is that, no matter how much we try to over complicate it, the answer is simple, as usual. We don’t need gurus, heroes or pedestals. We have the power within ourselves and I don’t think we should give it away so lightly, even if we are sure that the teacher is as enlightened as The Buddha.
We have a tendency to overcomplicate things. Do we need a new mat in this season’s color, a new pair of pants or another stretchy yoga tank? Do we need to go on retreats in far away exotic places? I don’t think we do. There’s a difference between need and want, I think my parents probably told me that.
It’s completely fine to want these things, to wish to enjoy the warm sand or the comfort of your new tank, but we should be clear that we don’t need them. It’s fun, but it’s not the answer that we’re looking for — it’s just a distraction even if it is a pleasant one.
The more I think about it, it really is as simple and as difficult as this: we need to be the best possible version of ourselves right now, wherever we are, wearing whatever we’re wearing. To be patient, kind and compassionate, honest and strong. To practice seeing and thinking deeply. To love without expectations or conditions. And that goes for loving ourselves too.
Isn’t the only solid ground to be found inside? To attach ourselves to the idea that someone else can deliver it for us seems dangerous both to ourselves and to the teacher. It feels to me like giving all that power to someone else sets me one more degree removed from the truth.
The subject of the guru relationship has filled many, many shelves in libraries and I bow to their research and knowledge on the subject. As usual, these are just my feelings, honest and truthful. I’ve learned so much from my teachers and I will be forever changed and grateful, but I hope that I can keep a sense of my own truth even as I listen at their feet.
So, I think you’re on your own, but I also think that’s a good thing. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have company on the path and helpful teachers to introduce new ideas, but it does mean that you’re the only one who can figure out what’s true for you. You can do it, you’re stronger and more discerning than you realize.
Here are three quotes from The Buddha on the subject, three because I couldn’t choose between them…
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, not matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
Now that’s the kind of teacher I can trust. Discover the truth within.
~ With loving and grateful thanks to all my teachers, jx
Edited by Brianna Bemel