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Integral Yoga Teachings

Question: How will I know when I have met my guru?

Global Garland-GurudevSri Gurudev: I would like to ask a question. How would you know when you have met the right person to be your life’s partner? Your heart tells you who the person is. There is a saying in South India, “People get their life partner or their guru according to their karma, destiny.” You cannot just intellectually decide. To get the right partner and to get the right guru, you should have done some good karma, you should have planted some good seeds in the past. Your destiny should be great to bring the proper person to your life.

When I just mentioned the example of a boy looking for a girl or a girl looking for a boy, I was not joking. It’s very true. You are selecting a person as your life partner and that partner will probably be for this entire life. It may continue, or it may not. But selecting your guru is selecting another partner for eternity. It is for a higher reason, a spiritual reason. You don’t marry someone to get an initiation, or to teach you how to meditate, or how to save your soul. Maybe you marry someone to have a companion to walk with in your life toward a common goal. But when you look for a guru, your aim is much greater than that. You are looking for somebody who can take you to the very end of your journey, who will guide you toward the ultimate goal.

So, it is impossible just to depend on your intellectual analysis or even just the feeling. Even though the feeling is much better than the intellectual side, still the destiny plays an important part. That means your longing for something, your thirst to know the truth and to experience that truth—that brings the right person. But still it is better to know what it is that you are looking for. What is it that you want to get and who can help you? In other words, your interest in the spiritual life, and your knowledge about the guide who would be able to help you—both of these things are necessary. You should have a good interest, sincere thirst. You should have a good hunger; at the same time you should know what to eat, which food is good for you.

Gurudev Maha Samadhi 1It’s better to know the caliber of the guru a little bit. Know what to look for, at least externally, but not just the physical. Know the character of the guru, not the physical features. Sometimes we get carried away by the physical features, “Oh, he has a nice long white beard.” Or, “He’s coming all the way from the Himalayan cave.” It’s not how a guru looks that’s important, or even how he or she talks that matters. A teacher can be very fluent in knowledge of the scriptures and may repeat all the scriptures, all the mantras, all the slokas. Another can sing beautiful bhajans, give talks on Vedanta, Siddhanta. Any scholar can do that. So then what to look for to find a guru? The answer is in questioning: what is it that you are looking to get? What is your goal? And what do you expect to experience when you gain that state? Then, do you see the same state in that person?

So, what is the goal of spiritual life? Often we simply say, “I want to experience God.” What do you mean by experiencing God? What is that God, or who is that God, where is that God? What will happen to you when you experience God? Even after having lived in ashrams for years and years some people say, “I don’t seem to have experienced God.” When people say that, I would like to ask them, “What do you think will happen to you when you experience God? What is that experience? Floating? Flying? Or hopping? Or just sitting in samadhi doing nothing?” What will happen in your life when you experience God? That is to be known; because before you want to achieve something you should know what it is.

Swami SatchidanandaWhat should happen to you when you reach your spiritual goal? That l have clearly said in many, many talks. That goal is a total balance in life. It is a well-balanced body and mind, which will bring a total harmony in your life. That will let you experience the health and joy, the peace. Always peaceful, always joyful, always healthy–when you experience God that is what you are experiencing. Don’t delude yourself by thinking, “Oh, l’m seeing some light! I’m experiencing God…I’m hearing a mystical sound. That is God.” No. Even people who have delirium can see some lights. If somebody gives you a spanking, you will have a ringing sound for days and days.

That’s not the real experience of God. Instead, experience the peace, joy, bliss; experience that chid (knowledge) and ananda (bliss). You are the sat (truth, existence). If that is understood well, and if that is what you are looking for, then you look for somebody who seems to be experiencing the same thing. Sthita prajna, says the Bhagavad Gita. Steady-mindedness, balance.

Lives of the Luminaries Sri Swami Satchidananda 1Such a person is always happy, healthy, joyful and peaceful. When you see that you can say, “Ahh, she is the person,” or “He is the person who can help me.” It’s almost like looking for a doctor. You don’t go and just put yourself in the hands of any doctor for a major operation. You look around; you ask people, “How many people has she saved?” To allow even your physical body to be treated you take so much time to look for the right surgeon. But in the spiritual field, your entire personality is involved. Not only the body and the mind, but also the ego and the emotions. So, take your time. It’s worth it to find the right guru for you. Then, naturally the person who wants something and the person who can give something, get attracted to each other as guru and disciple. They seem to vibrate on the same wavelength. The radio wants to receive the music so it tunes itself to the exact frequency. And the transmitter sends the music by the same frequency. So, when both the frequencies agree, then you have found your guru, and the guru has found the student.

When You Are Really Hungry

Question: : Once you’ve found your guru, then is that for eternity?
Does that mean that in another life you’ll be reunited with the same guru?

Sri Gurudev: Yes, if you’ve found the right guru. Remember, there’s not one guru who can help everybody. It’s very personal also. There are different temperaments, different interests. One guru may be able to help ten people, but the eleventh person may not get anything. That person may look for somebody else. It doesn’t mean he is not a good guru; he just wasn’t the right guru for that eleventh person. Once you select someone for your guru, if you are not gaining much, don’t just immediately leave or condemn the guru. First, you should question yourself, “Am I following everything? My guru has given me a lot of suggestions. Am I doing those things?” I say “suggestions,” because a guru is not going to force you; the guru’s duty is to just present the facts. The guru should not force. Because when you are really hungry, there are the facts. If you are hungry you will pick them up.

Swami Satchidananda MahasamadhiSo you should also know how good a student you are. Sometimes we don’t question ourselves. It’s easy to say, “I don’t seem to be getting anything. Maybe I’ll go somewhere else.” With that kind of attitude, wherever you go, you will not gain anything, because you are not consciously putting your effort in it. In fact, the students have more capacity than the guru. Their part is more important. Even if you select the wrong guru, if your thirst is genuine you will get some benefit, because you are not simply selecting any person. You are at least picking somebody with the understanding that that person has experienced something great; you feel that person has all the qualifications to help you. It is with that feeling, with that confidence, with that faith, you pick a guru. Then, even if that guru is not ready to help you one hundred percent, your faith continues, your faith helps you. That is very important, also. The faith is more important.

There are many, many, many stories that illustrate how an ardent disciple can learn the highest truth from anybody. Like one great hunter. The guru he had chosen refused to teach him; so he said, “Sir, I know you know everything. You don’t want to teach me, but still I’m going to learn from you.” He went into the jungle, made a crude image of that guru out of clay and sat before the image and meditated: “Sir, you are going to teach me. I’m your disciple. You please teach me. My heart is open to you.” In that  way, he learned everything.

So who is great? The guru or disciple? In a way, when a guru finds a good disciple, he or she is supremely happy, happier than the disciple. After all, who makes someone a guru? How could someone be known as a guru? Because the disciples call that person guru. No real guru will come and say, “I am your guru.” No. If a person says, “I am the guru,” he is not. It is the student who recognizes somebody as the guru. Because the student seems to be receiving something, getting some information, some light. The student was groping in the darkness; now he or she is getting some illumination. It’s the student who labels the person “guru.” The real glory goes to the student. So, the simple, quick answer to this question is: if you are a real, good, ardent student, there’s no problem, you will easily find your guru. If you sincerely want it, you will positively get it.