Next week we celebrate Guru Poornima, a festival where devotees honor and express gratitude to their spiritual teachers. Although Sri Gurudev Swami Satchidananda is no longer in the body, his wisdom lives on through his Integral Yoga teachings.
But what is a guru—and how do we find one? Sri Gurudev offered these timeless answers in talks that he gave on the guru/disciple relationship during past Guru Poornima celebrations.
Excerpt from Guru and Disciple, by Sri Swami Satchidananda
The literal meaning of Guru is teacher. But, normally, the word is used for a spiritual teacher, one who helps you in realizing your own spirit by removing the ignorance that veils it. The word Guru is made up of two syllables—gu and ru. Gu means the darkness of ignorance; ru, the one who dispels. So, the one who dispels your ignorance is Guru.
…A Guru is the one who has steady wisdom, stithapragnyam in Sanskrit, one who has realized the Self. Having that realization, you become so steady; you’re never nervous. You’ll always be tranquil; nothing can shake you. Your pragnya, or knowledge, never fades nor gets clouded over. It’s always in the Light.
…When it comes to choosing a Guru, you have to follow how you feel. Your heart should tell you, “Yes, so-and-so can guide me on the path.” Or you can use your intelligence and question some of the students: “How is he or she? Have they really taught you something?” If you’re really interested in finding a Guru, your own keen interest will show you the way.
…Know that there is a Guru within you; there is something in you that always seems to know what’s happening in you. So, as the person who knows everything, you are the Light, you are the Guru. Apply that knowledge to the things that you don’t know and that is using the Guru within.
However, if you don’t know how to apply your own knowing, then you go to somebody who has that capacity. The real Guru is the Spirit within you, the awareness. It’s your own conscience. The conscience in you, in me, in everybody is the same. It’s a part of the Cosmic Consciousness. It’s the God in you that’s always watching you. It can guide you and tell you whether you are doing right or wrong.
The real Guru is the Spirit within you, the awareness.
But, sometimes, we’re weak and don’t listen to that conscience. So, you have an outside Guru who has realized the inner Truth and who follows his or her conscience every time. That Guru helps you to know what is right and what is wrong. Even while helping you, he or she will gradually teach you how to recognize and follow the inner Guru. Gurus will never make you dependent on them. They are there to liberate you, not to make you dependent on them…
In truth, you are that Guru—you are that Self. And once you realize that, you’ll be possessed by all these beautiful qualities. Nothing will be able to shake you. And, until that happens, nothing else can save you. So, let us realize that Self first. If you know who you are, you don’t need to worry about others’ opinions.
Guru Poornima Message from Sri Swami Satchidananda
My beloved children, you are all sparks of the Divine. You are eternally pure and blissful. You are the never-changing atma. Do not identify yourselves with your instruments—the body, senses, and mind. You are the cause of your bondage, and you have to liberate yourself.
The Guru is only a guiding light. Keep the light always in front of you. Constantly be in that presence. Remember this always, and you will have perfect health and peace. May the indwelling Guru guide you all. May the full moon, which brings the Guru’s wisdom, shed its light always on you.
May you all shine like beacon lights. May love, faith, and devotion be the guiding light in your life. May I serve you more and more.