“If people see something good in you, let them learn from you.”
One evening at satsang during Teacher Training we had the opportunity to ask Sri Gurudev two questions we hoped would ensure our success as Yoga teachers.
“What are the most important qualities for a Yoga teacher to develop?” Sri Gurudev did not hesitate a moment. “Humility,” he said, “learn from your students. You should think everyone is your teacher and you are the only student.”
What are the most important gifts we can give to our students?” Sri Gurudev replied, “You can give nothing to your students. Remember that you are still learning. The most important thing you can do is to be a good Yogi and to set an example in your own life.”
Humility, selfless service and being a good example were themes Sri Gurudev often discussed in talks with new Yoga teachers. He shared the following thoughts about teaching at various graduation satsangs:
“The best teaching is by example. That is the advice I always give to the graduates. Our life must be one that is dedicated to the welfare of the entire creation. You live for the sake of others. That’s what you call a dedicated life. You have prepared yourself here. We are here to prepare ourselves to serve. In service we don’t expect any remuneration. If it comes to you, accept it. Don’t share for money or for anything but the joy of sharing. There’s a great joy in giving, in sharing and caring and not expecting anything in return. That’s what we learn from the Bhagavad Gita: ‘Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana.’ You are born to serve but not to expect the result of it, the fruit of it.
“No tree eats its own fruit. Every tree brings forth fruit and offers it to others. What a dedicated life we learn from the trees, the plants, and the animals because that is nature. Nature’s law is not to live for yourself but for others. That should be our nature. Other species live for the sake of others. That’s why they don’t need scriptures; they don’t need religions; they don’t need Raja Yoga courses. They don’t have to meditate because they live that life.
“But for whom are all these teachings, scriptures, dogmas and rituals? Only for this species: the human beings. It’s we who have forgotten that life. That’s why there are thousands of approaches and ways of teaching humans this lesson of not living for yourself, but dedicating your life to others. So, you have prepared yourself in Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. In samadhi you are in super consciousness. The scriptures call it jagrat sushupti. That means awakened sleep. Sleep without sleeping. Do without doing. Act without acting.
“You should ultimately learn this trick of doing without doing. That is accomplished only when you clean up your mirrors well. Make the mirror completely pure and steady, like a crystal, and then you will know who you are. You will know who you are if the mind is cleaned well and stabilized well. With a steady, clean, colorless mind, you, the real you, will see yourself. Then you realize your pure ‘I,’ the pure Atman. With that vision you see everything as that pure Atman appearing as many. Only then does your vision become spiritual vision because you have understood yourself as the pure spirit, and from that you see everything.
“So to achieve this knowledge of the Self, Self‑realization, the only way is to keep the mind clean. That’s why the second sutra of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras says, ‘Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah.’ The restraint of the modifications of the mind ‑stuff is Yoga. That is the real Yoga. All other things are steps, aids, to help you to get into this space. Let the chitta be pure. That is the aim of Yoga.
“Yoga should help us to really know who we are and who others are, what everything is made of essentially. So if we keep this truth, this reality, in mind, we’ll be very useful to people. Our personal lives will be very peaceful also. When your life becomes useful your mind becomes peaceful. So if the mind becomes peaceful, you become easeful. Easeful means not disease‑ful.
“Make your mind Yoga and from that yogic mind you will see things as they are, and you will know how to accept them as they are. That’s why Yoga practices or even religious practices are not to be preached; they’re for self‑reformation. You correct yourself; and then if people see something good in you, let them learn from you. You don’t go out as a teacher. Others should learn from you and call you teacher.
“Wisdom is not something that you teach. It comes out of experience and it comes from within. You learn by seeing examples—sometimes even by making mistakes. The teacher repeats what he learned, you hear it, and by your example, pass it on to others. It’s almost like a fruit ripening. By its maturity, the color, the flavor, the taste, everything comes. Nobody can teach the fruit to become ripe, but they can give it some nourishment, good sunlight, and protection from animals. You can do all that, but you cannot make the fruit grow. By your well-balanced mind, beautiful ideas come from within. Even if it doesn’t come from within, you will receive those ideas from the cosmic mind. School education is only partial.
“The ultimate teacher is God. All you have and all you do is God’s gift. Think of that as often as you can. Everything is God’s. You didn’t bring anything with you; you’re not going to take anything with you. Everything was given to you: money, power, position, even knowledge. So what was the purpose of giving those things to you? For you to possess? No. They were given for you to use for the sake of the general good, for the service of the whole Universe. You are using those things for others’ sake, for the sake of the entire cosmos. If you think that way, you don’t have pride about ‘Oh, I’ve done this, I’ve achieved something.’ Humility comes automatically. Humility is the greatest virtue. If you take pride in your money, pride in your power, pride in your possessions, at the same time, fear comes—because your pride is based on those things you don’t want to lose. So, the humble man is the peaceful man, always.
“Well, I’m glad to see all the fruits of Yoga. Certainly, a tree is known by its fruits, and I am sure that you are all sweet fruits. Sometimes, one fruit may have many seeds. After you finish eating the fruits, you plant the seeds, and they give rise to more trees and fruits. So may the great science of Yoga that brings health and happiness to the entire humanity be served well through your very life and example. May the Lord bless you and guide you to find easefulness in the body, peacefulness in mind, and thus usefulness in your life. OM Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi.”
Thanks to Swami Muruganandaji and SASTRI for Sri Gurudev’s Satsang transcripts from which these teachings were excerpted and compiled. Sivani is a teacher of Integral Yoga Hatha, Raja Yoga and Meditation. She is a Seminarian studying for the Integral Yoga Ministry.
(By Sivani Marlene Alderman, from the August, 2006 IYTA Newsletter)