Monday, February 7, 2011

Why is the grace of a guru important ?

Why is the grace of a guru important ?

While there are many generic Paths to God, Gurukrupayog (the Path of Guru’s Grace) is the most
important from the point of view of achieving the ultimate in spiritual evolution.
In every aspect of life it is best if we have a guide or a teacher to understand, learn and progress.
Making spiritual progress too is no exception to this Universal rule and it is only by the grace of the
eternal Guru Principle (the Teaching Principle of God), acting through a Guru in human form that
a student makes rapid spiritual progress.
No matter what spiritual Path we are on, if we try and do it on our own, we can reach only up to a
particular spiritual level. Beyond this, the Guru’s grace is an absolute necessity to take us to the
next level.
Definition of Gurukrupayog
The word krupa has been derived from the Sanskrut word ‘krup’, which means ‘to be
compassionate’. Krupa denotes compassion, initiation or a blessing. Accordingly, Gurukrupayog is
the spiritual path, where through the Guru’s grace, the Jiva (embodied soul) is united with God.
Importance of Gurukrupayog
1. Time to progress
The most important advant-age of following Gurukrupayog is the time taken to grow spiritually. By
serving a Guru’s mission of spreading Spirituality, a seeker acquires His grace and makes rapid
spiritual progress.
While there is no worldly comparison to acquiring a Guru’s grace, the following example will help
in understanding the spirit of the previous sentence. Imagine a student who is poor, but by sheer
hard work he catches the eye of a billionaire, who then gives him a scholarship to a top university
and takes care of his career prospects.
Just as a student would be saved from years of making a slow climb up the corporate ladder, so
also a seeker who earns the grace of a Guru bypasses years of Sadhana (spiritual practice) in
any other spiritual path.
With Sadhana through any other path, we can progress on an average at the rate of 0.25% per
year. If we undertake Sadhana as advised by the Guru, we can progress upto 2-3 % annually. If a
disciple is able to acquire Guru’s grace, then spiritual progress of even 5-8% per year is possible.
2. Progressing beyond a certain level
There is a well known saying in Sanskrut : ‘Gurukrupa hi kevalam shishya param-mangalam’.
Which means that only by the grace of the Guru can the disciple attain his ultimate benefaction,
that is, spiritual progress.
It is impossible to reach the level of a Saint (that is, the 70% spiritual level) and dissolve our mind
and intellect, unless we have the grace of a Guru.
No matter what spiritual path one follows, other than Gurukrupayog, no path can purify the Mental,
Causal and Supracausal bodies 100%. Consequently, none of these paths have the capacity to
help us attain Moksh (the Final Liberation)
Other spiritual Paths such as Path of Action(karma yoga), Path of (gyanayoga) and Path of Devotion(Bhaktiyoga) are significant in a seeker’s life only till he is blessed by a Guru. Thereafter, since the disciple undertakes Sadhana only as advised by the Guru, only Gurukrupayog remains. All Paths to God
finally culminate in a seeker acquiring the grace of a Guru to finally merge into God.
How does Guru’s grace function ?
The Guru’s grace can function through 2 mechanisms :
Sankalp (Resolve) : Only when a Guru makes a Sankalp - ‘May this disciple progress spiritually’,
does the disciple make real spiritual progress. This itself is termed as Gurukrupa.

Even a mere thought like, ‘May it occur’ in the mind of the Guru is sufficient for the occurrence of
an event. Nothing else is required.

However, this is possible only in the case of a Saint whose spiritual level exceeds 80%. Sankalp
for Gurus at the spiritual level of 70% is mostly limited to worldly help for their disciples.

Astitva (Presence) : Mere Astitva, proximity or company of the Guru is sufficient for a disciple’s
spiritual practice and the progress to occur automatically. A good example for this is the Sun,
which awakens everyone and makes the flowers bloom, when it rises. This happens simply with
its existence. The Sun does not ask anyone to wake up or the flowers to bloom.

The mission of a Guru of a spiritual level of more than 90% is of this nature.

How can we recognise the fake gurus ?

How can we recognise the fake gurus ?

Dear friends as its important to know about Gurus or saints its also important to know about fake gurus and saints so today we will try to know about this aspect of spirituality also .
80% of the Gurus in society today are fake or without spiritual authority. That means they are at a
spiritual level much below 70% and do not have access to the Universal Mind and Intellect. In
some cases, these people may have a high ability to attract thousands of people by some specific
spiritual power they have obtained.

For example, a person at 50% spiritual level may be able to cure disease from an early age
through spiritual power obtained from spiritual practice undertaken in a previous birth. Most of
mankind in today’s era being between the 20-25% spiritual level are unequipped to discern
whether the person is a Saint or not. However they generally end up following the person who can
heal them or perform miracles.

For the benefit of an average person, we have listed some points that a true Guru is not. These
are a few points that will help you in finding out fake spiritual guides that can be understood by the
intellect and tested. These are some cases where these fake Gurus have exposed themselves by
their actions.

1. The Gurus who generate a feeling of inferiority in others and try to show off their greatness:

One Saint asks everyone who comes to pay obeisance to him their name and age. Once that is
told he says, “Both the answers are wrong. The name and age belong to the body. You are the
Soul. It has neither a name nor age”. Then he speaks on Spirituality and asks, “Are you doing
spiritual practice?” If someone happens to reply in the affirmative, he asks “What spiritual
practice?” If one replies, “The one recommended by my Guru”, he says “You were not able to
answer simple questions about your name and age. Then what has your Guru taught you? Only a
real Guru can reply to these questions. Come to me. I will tell you.”

One should tell such fake Gurus, “Actually your questions were meaningless! You asked me my
name and age only because of your awareness of the body (dehabuddhi), so I too replied with
awareness of the body”.

What kind of Guru is he who is unable to make out at the first glance whether one has a Guru or if
one’s spiritual practice is going on appropriately or not?

2. Those who have an attachment to wealth and women

3. Putting on false airs

One Guru does not use a watch because he does not want to be bound by the restrictions of time
and a watch strap. Yet after every fifteen to twenty minutes he asks others, “What is the time?”

4. Desirous of fame

Some people who have an earnest desire to be known as Gurus and are spiritually evolved to
some extent, recommend different kinds of spiritual practice to others. In most cases, they do not
walk their talk themselves. As a result, it has been observed that the seekers undertaking the
advised spiritual practice progress but the so called Guru remains stagnant.

5. Encourage dependency in their students

Some Gurus fear that if they impart all spiritual knowledge to their disciples, they will have no
importance thereafter. Hence they do not impart all knowledge to them
to know about spiritual levels log on to this link

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Be strong mentally and spiritually.

Be strong mentally and spiritually.

Never speak harshly under the fire of jealousy. The mouth can be like a cannon, and speech more damaging than any exploding shell. Be discriminate in your use of words. People do not like to be told their faults. If guidance or constructive criticism isn't welcome, withhold your words. Otherwise, the more you say, the worse you may make the situation.

Thoughts can sometimes be more effective than words. The human mind is the most powerful broadcasting machine there is. If you constantly broadcast positive thoughts with love, those thoughts will have an effect on others. (Similarly, if you broadcast jealousy or hatred, others receive those thoughts and respond accordingly).

Ask God to put His power behind your efforts. If, for instance, it is the husband that is going astray, the wife should pray to God: "Lord, helpme to help my husband. Keep all taint of jealousy and resentment out of my heart. I only pray that he realize his error and change. Lord, be with him; and bless me that I do my part." 

If your communion with God is deep, you will see that person change. The more errant a person is, the greater kindness you should give. Instead of succumbing to jealousy and fear of losing a loved one, strive for right attitude and behavior, keep yourself physically attractive, and be strong mentally and spiritually.

"There are no obstacles: There are only opportunities!"

"There are no obstacles: There are only opportunities!"

People seldom look for hidden causes behind the occurrences in their lives. They cannot understand why they suffer. Suffering itself draws a thick curtain over their minds, obscuring its origins.

Only through deep, inner communion with higher states of consciousness does it become clear that all deficiencies, whether mental or physical, are the just consequences of a person's misbehavior in the past. A wise sage has the inner clarity to perceive the exact cause of every mishap. He can then prescribe actions that will remove that cause as an influence in a person'slife.

One who was born disadvantaged in any way should resist fiercely the temptation to wallow in self-pity. To feel sorry for oneself is but to dilute one's inner power to overcome. Instead, affirm, "There are no obstacles: There are only opportunities!"

Accuse no one, not even yourself. Blame and accusation won't erase what has been done; it will affirm, rather, your dependency on circumstances over which, truly, you have lost control.

Seek God in the inner silence. Reconcile yourself to what is, and to what needs to be done about it. You can re-shape every karma, provided that from today onward you live by soul-consciousness. Repudiate the dictates of your ego. They are forever grounded in delusion.

The closer you come to God, the more surely you will know Him as Divine Love itself: the Nearest of the near, the very Dearest of the dear.

Joy, health, and plenty as a son of the Ruler of the Universe.

Joy, health, and plenty as a son of the Ruler of the Universe.

While struggling, man must know that his struggle for health, prosperity, and wisdom is born of delusion, for he already has all he needs within his inner all-powerful Self. It is the erroneous thought that he does not have these things that is the source of his sense of lack. He needs only to know that he has everything already.

Once a healthy, wealthy, and wise prince dreamed that he was poor. In the dream he shouted, "Oh, I am suffering from cancer and I have lost all my wisdom and riches." His wife, the queen, woke up and roused him, saying, "Look, prince, laugh and rejoice, for you are neither suffering from sickness nor have you lost your riches and wisdom. You are lying comfortably at my side with health and wisdom, in your rich kingdom. You were only dreaming these catastrophes."

So it is the ignorant man. He is dreaming lack and failure, when he can claim his birthright of joy, health, and plenty as a son of the Ruler of the Universe. He is now living in God's perfect kingdom, but he is dreaming imperfection.

Love and forbearance are essential to the growth of harmony

Love and forbearance are essential to the growth of harmony

Love and forbearance are essential to the growth of harmony. Love nurtures all things that grow; it harmonizes and unites. Hatred agitates and separates; and indifference destroys what could have been made good and beneficial. Love is harmony and harmony is love. Hearts that do not love are never visited by angels of harmony. 

Love is the highest, the grandest, the most inspiring, the most sublime principle in creation. All human souls, the world, the whole universe, are attuned to the cosmic eternal harmony of love. Disharmony arises from ignorance of this divine unity, which is the heart of God pulsating in everything He has created. He is the love that flows through caring hearts, and the bliss that expresses as joy in all souls.

A Hindu sage said, "People have time to worry and to suffer, but feel they have no time to meditate and work toward being truly happy." 

Throw off indifference and cultivate love, forbearance, and wisdom. Build your joys on the sure foundation of inner harmony. Cherish no though that does not harmonize with the love and lawful ideals of God. Thus will your whole life be flooded with the light and bliss of the Divine Harmony.

Life's endless puzzle: deep meditation, and increasing attunement with wisdom

Life's endless puzzle: deep meditation, and increasing attunement with wisdom 

Most human beings refuse to be guided from within, by higher wisdom. Instead, they live influenced by the deeply entrenched habits they created in the past. Their lives, in consequence, are like balls stuck at the player's whim. As the ball in a game must go where it is sent, so mankind, habit-driven, has no choice but to live out the results of his karma as dictated by his own former actions.

Most human beings are slaves to their conditioning, which may appear as an outward cause but in fact has its origin within themselves. They are controlled by their habits. Although those habits were created initially by themselves, a habit, once formed, is self-perpetuating.

Very few people have any idea how insidiously their action-generated habits of the past influence their present behavior, their mental outlook, the companions and environment they attract, and what they mistakenly call their "luck," whether good or bad. They cannot see those habits welling up from deep in the subsconscious mind, nor how they silently affect all their present attitudes and actions. People - Westerners, especially - believe they have free will. Others - mostly Easterners - imagine just as erroneously that there is no way out, that all is Kismet: Fate.

But there is a way out! That way is to renounce the false notion that we demonstrate freedom by giving free reign to our egoic desires. In Karma's realm, Karma rules supreme. Yet human beings have the power to withdraw to another realm altogether, by attuning themselves with the infinite wisdom behind karmic law. This much freedom is ours eternally: to accept God and His guidance from within, or to continue to be guided by our egoic desires.

The more we live guided from within, the greater our control over outer events in the great game oflife. For when we live at our own center, in superconsciousness, we live in the only true freedom there is. In soul-consciousness we are no longer helplessly controlled by habits and desires.

To the extent, then, that we develop soul-consciousness, we free ourselves from karmic slavery.

Instead of accepting fatalistically the decrees of karma, follow the inner way to freedom. Meditate daily. Commune deeply with God. Learn from Him, through the silent voice of intuition, the way out of soul-degrading serfdom to habits.

How long - how tragically long! - have habits kept you fearful about the future. If unexpected fortune and misfortune in your life confuse you, seek the only solution there is to life's endless puzzle: deep meditation, and increasing attunement with wisdom through daily contact with the ever-free, Infinite Spirit.

Remain divine by continuously forgiving and loving as God does.

Remain divine by continuously forgiving and loving as God does.

Once upon a time a powerful emperor of a country got drunk. Disguised, he went into a tavern belonging to his estate and in a quarrel broke another man's leg. The innkeeper took him to a judge who had been appointed to his post by the king. As the judge was about to pass sentence, the king suddenly threw off his disguise and exclaimed, "I am the king who appointed you as the judge, and I have the power to throw you into prison. How dare you convict me?

In a similar way, the perfect soul, when it is identified with the body, may commit an evil and be deemed guilty according to the judge - or law of karma. But when that soul can identify its consciousness with God, the Creator of the law of karma, that royal soul cannot be punished by the judging law.

One can escape the law of karma by identifying himself with God. Once he is able to do that, he should forgive his brothers who sin against him. But if that soul, who found divine forgiveness from his own karma by meditation, is unforgiving toward his sinning brothers, then he again identifies with human lifeand becomes governed by the inscrutable laws of limiting karma. Every soul, therefore, should remain divine by continuously forgiving and loving as God does.

According to the laws of a county, a judge may sentence a young criminal to three years in a reformatory school. But the judge also has the privilege to pardon the young offender if the youth repents and promises to behave well in future. So, according to the law of karma, a person who acts evilly must reap the consequences of his actions. But if that evil-doer appeals to God for pardon by intense prayer and meditation, then God, being the Maker of the law of karma, can grant him amnesty from punishment

For will power directs energy, and energy in turn acts upon matter.

For will power directs energy, and energy in turn acts upon matter.

If we accept the principle of cause and effect in Nature, and of action and reaction in physics, how can we not believe that this natural law extends also to human beings? Once consciousness is understood as basic to everything the question begs to be asked: Do not humans, too, belong to the natural order?

Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.

To understand karma, you must realize that thoughts are things. The very universe, in the final analysis, is composed not of matter but of consciousness. Matter responds, far more than most people realize, to the power of thought. For will power directs energy, and energy in turn acts upon matter. Matter, indeed, is energy.

Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. Human suffering is not a sign of God's, or Nature's, anger with mankind. It is a sign, rather, of man's ignorance of divine law.

The law is forever infallible in its workings.

Success has a relation to the satisfaction of the sou..

Success has a relation to the satisfaction of the sou..

Success has a relation to the satisfaction of the soul in the context of the environment in which one lives; it is a result of actions based on the ideals of truth, and includes the happiness and well-being ofothers as part of one's own fulfillment. Apply this law to your material, mental, moral, and spiritual lifeand you will find it a complete, comprehensive definition of success.

People think of success in different ways, depending on their aim in life. You ever hear of it in connection with stealing: "He was a successful thief"! This shows that not all kinds of success are desiresable. Our success must not hurt others. Another qualification of success is that we not only bring harmonious and beneficial results to ourselves, but also share those benefits with others. 

Suppose a wife engages in the spiritual practice of prolonged silence, and at such times refuses to talk even to her husband and children. Though she may succeed in keeping silent, and thereby gain some degree of personal inner peace, her behavior is selfish and detrimental to her family's happiness. She is not truly successful unless the accomplishment of her good intention also benefits those to whom she has a responsibility.

Likewise, the attainment of material success means more than that we are individually entitledto enjoy our prosperity; it means that we are morally obligated to help others to create abetter life as well. 

Anyone who has the brains can make money. But if he has love in his heart, he will never be able to use that money selfishly; he will always share with others. Money becomes a curse to the miserly, but to those who have heart it is a blessing.

Henry Ford, for example, makes a lot of money, but at the same time he doesn't believe in charity that simply encourages people to be lazy. Rather, he provides work and a livelihood for many. If Henry Ford makes money by giving others prosperity too, he is successful in the right way. He has greatly helped the masses; American civilization owes much to him.

Even the greatest of saints are not fully redeemed until they have shared their success, their ultimate experiences of God-realization, by helping others toward divine realization. This is why those who have that attainment are dedicated to giving understanding to those who don't understand.

Thus, if you find joy and pleasure in the culture of your mind to achieve true success, not only do you insure your own happiness, but that of others as well.

Atma Shatakam - śivo'ham śivo'ham.... śivo'ham śivo'ham..... śivo'ham śivo'ham

śivo'ham śivo'ham.... śivo'ham śivo'ham..... śivo'ham śivo'ham

Atma Shatakam

The Atma shatakam is also known as Nirvana Shatakam , and by other variations of these names. It is a shloka in six stanzas written by Adi Sankara summarising the basic teachings of Advaita Vedanta, or the Hindu teachings of non-dualism.
The speaker of the poem is nominally Shiva, but it is generally seen as a statement by a knowing person of identity with Shiva or brahman. The speaker lists in the earlier verses what he (or brahman) is not. He is not body or mind, nor the things that attach them to each other and to the world, including the intellect, the senses, the practices of life, the occurrences of life such as birth and death. In the last verse he says that he permeates through the universe, and that he is consciousness, bliss and the soul, and by implication, the atman and brahman.

manobuddhyahahkāra cittāni nāhah
na ca śrotrajihve na ca ghrāhanetre
na ca vioma bhūmir na tejo na vāyuh
cidānandarūpah śivo'ham śivo'ham
na ca prahasajño na vai pahcavāyuh
na vā saptadhātur na vā pahcakośah
na vākpāhipādah na copasthapāyu
cidānandarūpah śivo'ham śivo'ham
na me dveşarāgau na me lobhamohau
mado naiva me naiva mātsaryabhāvah
na dharmo na cārtho na kāmo na mokşah
cidānandarūpah śivo'ham śivo'ham
na puhyah na pāpah na saukhyah na dukhyah
na mantro na tīrthah na vedā na yajña
ahah bhojanah naiva bhojyah na bhoktā
cidānandarūpah śivo'ham śivo'ham
na me mhtyuśahkā na me jātibhedah
pitā naiva me naiva mātā na janmah
na bandhur na mitrah gurunaiva śişyah
cidānandarūpah śivo'ham śivo'ham
ahah nirvikalpo nirākāra rūpo
vibhutvāca sarvatra sarvehdriyāhah
na cāsangata naiva muktir na meyah
cidānandarūpah śivo'ham śivo'ham

Guru and Divine Grace - Guru is a channel for spiritual knowledge.

Guru and Divine Grace  -  Guru is a channel for spiritual knowledge.

In the effort to understand life and approach death meaningfully, vairagya [non-attachment] and abhyasa [practices] are the responsibility of the seeker. When these two are truly undertaken, another help follows. That help comes in the form of guru and grace, each linked to the other, each so beautiful and comforting, each so powerful. Unfortunately, each is so frequently misunderstood.

Western culture, which has increasingly welcomed and embraced traditions from the East in the last thirty years, has too often understood guru to mean simply a teacher. In the West guru is frequently considered to be merely someone who is trained in philosophy, meditation, and hatha yoga. From this point of view, the guru is expected to share this knowledge with the students, training them in scriptures and various spiritual disciplines. While the western student may become dependent on the teacher and have high expectations about what the teacher should do on behalf of the student, the guru is nonetheless viewed as a teacher only.

In ancient times students received formal education in guru-kulas. The students lived with their guru from an early age and were given not only instruction on an intellectual level, but also were guided in spiritual development and in the maintenance of physical health. The guru had a very close relationship with the students and knew their habits and level of inner strength.

In today's life there is no spiritual environment in which a seeker can fully concentrate on learning the language of silence in order to find inner fulfillment. It is very difficult for the student not to be distracted by the temptations of the external world. Modern education focuses on memorizing facts of the external world, and ignores the growth and development of the inner being. The guru-kula system of ancient times is not practical in today's world, but a more holistic approach to education can be adopted. Such an approach emphasizes spiritual growth along with the development of the intellectual aspects of the mind, and also includes guidance in how to maintain the fitness and health of the physical body. In the eastern tradition guru is much more than a teacher. He or she represents the special energy that is guiding individuals toward their fulfillment as human beings, toward perfection. Grace is the impulse of that energy.

The word guru is a compound of two words, gu and ru. Gu means darkness and ru means light. That which dispels the darkness of ignorance is called guru. The energy and action of removing darkness are guru. Guru is not a person, it is a force driven by grace.

There is an intelligent momentum that pervades
the universe that is moving all human beings
toward the perfection we call God.
Guru is that intelligence.

To put this another way, there is an intelligent momentum that pervades the universe that is moving all human beings toward the perfection we call God. Guru is that intelligence. Everyone's receptivity to that intelligence varies. It depends on preparation, which includes the development of vairagya or nonattachment, and abhyasa or practice. In other words, guru is always there, but the student may not be ready to receive what the guru has to offer. When the student is prepared, the guru always arrives to help the student do what is necessary to progress in removing the veil of ignorance. It is said that when the wick and oil are properly prepared, the master lights the lamp.

Guru is not a person, but guru can be represented in a person. One who has developed his or her own spiritual awareness to a very high level can guide others, and is considered to be guru. Only one who is finely attuned to the inner guide can inspire the awakening of the inner guide in another. Guru is not a physical being. If a guru begins thinking this power is her or his own, then they are no longer a guide. The guru is a tradition, a stream of knowledge.

In India guru is a sacred word that is used with reverence and is always associated with the highest wisdom. The guru is unique in a person's life. The relationship between disciple and guru is like no other relationship. It is said that guru is not mother, father, son, or daughter. The guru is not a friend in any conventional sense. It also is sometimes said that the guru is father, mother, son, daughter, and friend all in one; the guru is sun and moon, sky and earth to the disciple.

The truth is that the relationship of guru to disciple is indescribable. The relationship extends to the realm beyond the world, transcends death, and stretches far beyond the limited karmic bonds associated with family and friends. A mother and father help sustain the body of their child, and nurture and guide the child through the formative years of life to adulthood. Guru sustains, nurtures, and guides a soul through lifetimes to ultimate liberation.

The relationship with the guru is based on the purest form of unconditional love. There is complete openness with the guru. The disciple should hold nothing back from the guru. This is why in the tradition, a student goes to the guru and offers a bundle of sticks to burn. The bundle symbolizes that everything the disciple has is offered unconditionally to the guru. Everything is offered to the guru so the guru can do the work of shaping the student spiritually. The disciple comes with full faith and entrusts his whole life to the guru. The guru takes that life and chops it and burns what is not necessary, and then carefully carves what remains into something sacred.

In this chopping and burning, the guru is merciless. The guru's job is not to hold hands with the disciple and wipe away tears, but to cut into pieces the disciple's ego and all that stands between the disciple and freedom. The guru does not allow dependence. If the disciple becomes too dependent on the guru, the guru pushes the disciple away, insisting on independence. It is a remarkable expression of the deepest love.

Guru is that force moving
a soul toward enlightenment.

To be on a spiritual path with a guru is not an easy thing. It is not pleasant. The guru tests the disciples, puts them in the most difficult situations, and creates obstacles for them. All the tests, difficulties, and obstacles are meant to train and expand the consciousness of the disciple.

That is the sole work of the guru. The guru wants nothing from the disciple. Guru is that force moving a soul toward enlightenment. The guru's actions are from pure compassion. As the sun shines and lives far above, the guru gives spiritual love and remains unattached.

Guru is a channel for spiritual knowledge.

Guru is a channel for spiritual knowledge. Jesus repeatedly reminded his disciples of this. "I have not spoken of myself, but the Father which sent me." The Father is that stream of pure knowledge. Jesus, as an enlightened being, was attuned to that knowledge.

No human being can ever become a guru. Guru is not a human experience, or, better said, guru is not a sensory experience. It is a divine experience to be a guru. A human being allows herself or himself to be used as a channel for receiving and transmitting by the power of powers. Then it happens. Then guru manifests. To do that, a human being must learn to be selfless, must learn to love. Real love expects nothing. That is how genuine gurus live. Selfless love is the basis of their enlightenment, and the basis of their roles as channels of knowledge.

Guru is not the goal. Anyone who establishes himself as a guru to be worshipped, is not a guru. Christ, Buddha, and other great persons did not set up any such example. Guru is like a boat for crossing the river. It is important to have a good boat and it is very dangerous to have a boat that is leaking. The boat brings you across the river. When the river is crossed the boat is no longer necessary. You don't hang onto the boat after completing the journey, and you certainly don't worship the boat.

Many times students come to the guru with a preconceived idea of what the guru should be like. They come with expectations of what the guru is there to do for them. Perhaps the students think the guru should give them much attention, or make decisions for them, or take on troubles they have created for themselves. Sometimes the students think the guru should behave in a certain way. When these expectations and preconceived images are not met, the student becomes upset and may even leave the guru.

This is not the proper way to approach a teacher. A student should not be filled with expectations and preconceived images, but with a burning desire to learn, and with firm determination. Then there will be no difficulty. The guru and the disciple can then do their work accordingly.

The spiritual seeker should not worry about who the guru is, or what the guru will do. The seeker's first concern is getting prepared, organizing her or his life and thoughts in a spiritually healthy way, and then working toward a way of life that simplifies and purifies. At the right time the master will be there.

Once the guru has arrived, the methods and behavior of the guru should not be the disciple's concern. The disciple's work is to act on the instructions and teachings of the master, and at the same time, work toward more and more selflessness, and surrender of the ego. It is the ego that is the principle barrier to enlightenment.

A spiritual master's ways of teaching are many and sometimes mysterious. To one student the guru may show much attention, spending much time with a student, even doting on a particular student. Another student may be utterly ignored by the master. It doesn't matter. Each student is getting a teaching, and because of the insight of the master, just the right teaching at the right time. The guru is not in a student's life to give the student what the student thinks she wants, but rather to give what is needed to progress spiritually.

Jesus' parable of the prodigal son illustrates this. Briefly retold, a man had two sons. One day one son asked for all the property and wealth that would come in his inheritance. Then he went away and lived a wild, sensory life of rich foods, drink, gambling, and women. When all of that wealth was spent, the son returned. The father ran to his son when he saw him, and hugged and kissed him. He gave him expensive clothes to wear and ordered a feast to be held.

Meanwhile, the other son had remained all this time with his father, working for him and beside him, always respectful and devoted. When the devoted son saw all the attention given to the wayward and reckless son, he asked his father how this could be.

"I've been here all these years with you, always serving you, obeying every commandment, and you've never so much as given me a goat to throw a party for my friends. Now my brother returns after squandering all that wealth and living a wild life, and you treat him like a king and make a grand celebration for him."

The father's response was essentially that the wayward son needed this attention at this time, and the devoted son did not. Each son was given what was right for his spiritual growth at the right time.

The guru does not operate from what seems fair, or outwardly appropriate. He is not constrained to such cultural amenities. He can seem harsh, even brutal. He will put students in situations that make no sense, or are very uncomfortable. He will say things that won't make any sense for months. He will ask things of students that students think are impossible. Everything the guru is doing is for the growth of the student. The student need only have faith in that fact.

The guru also teaches without words or actions. As the disciple learns to surrender and move the ego out of the way, and grows more selfless, the ability to learn intuitively from the guru grows. The student learns in the cave of silence. It is like tuning into the guru's frequency or plugging into that stream of knowledge. The guru is always working from there. The disciple's role is to gradually learn to also work from that place. The disciple learns this by doing all duties with love, by being nonattached, and by surrendering. The disciple should always be striving to purify and prepare for more and greater knowledge. Then God will say, "I want to enter this living temple that you are." Remove the impurities and you will find that the one who wants to know reality is the source of reality.

Grace is the impulse or the impetus of
the energy to dispel darkness.

There is also the activity of grace. Grace is the impulse or the impetus of the energy to dispel darkness. There is the grace of the scriptures, from the wisdom that has passed down from others. There is the grace of the teacher, who imparts that wisdom and helps bring it to life in the student. There is the grace of God, or pure consciousness, that is alive and ever present in everyone's life. Integral to these three graces is the grace of oneself, having the will to undertake a purposeful journey in life, to do the spiritual work of life, and to prepare oneself.

How do we get this grace? It comes of its own when a seeker has made maximum effort. When all efforts have been made, and all efforts have been exhausted, then grace comes.

A Sanskrit word for grace is shaktipata. Shakti means energy, and pata means bestowing. Shaktipata means "bestowing the energy" or lighting the lamp. Sometimes shaktipata is translated as "descent of power." A power comes from above, of its own, to a vessel that is cleaned, purified, and is prepared to receive it. When the instructions from the guru have been completed, the seeker has become strong in selflessness and surrender, and the samskaras have been burned, grace comes.

In my own life, since I was a small child I was raised and guided by my master. I had done all that he asked of me. Grace had not come and I grew frustrated. So one day I went to my master and said, "You have not done shaktipata for me. That means either you don't have shakti or you don't intend to do it."

I told him, "For so long now I have been closing my eyes in meditation and I end up with nothing but a headache. My time has been wasted and I find little joy in life."

He didn't say anything, so in my exasperation I continued talking.

"I worked hard and sincerely," I said to him. "You said it would take fourteen years, but this is my seventeenth year of practice. Whatever you have asked me to do I have done. But today you give me shaktipata or I will commit suicide."

Finally he said to me, "Are you sure? Are you really following all the practices I have taught you? Is this the fruit of my teaching, that you are committing suicide?"

Then he waited a moment and said, "When do you want to commit suicide?"

"Right now," I said. "I am talking to you before I commit suicide. You are no longer my master now. I have given up everything. I am of no use to the world, I am of no use to you."

I got up to go to the Ganges, which was near, and was prepared to drown myself.

My master said, "You know how to swim, so when you jump in the Ganges, naturally you will start swimming. You'd better find some way so that you will start drowning and not come up. Perhaps you should tie some weight to yourself."

"What has happened to you?" I asked him. "You used to love me so much."

I went to the Ganges and with a rope I tied some big rocks to myself. When I was ready to jump, my master came and called, "Wait. Sit here for one minute. I will give you what you want."

I did not know if he meant it, but I thought I could wait at least a minute. I sat in my meditation posture and my master came and touched me on the forehead. I remained in that position for nine hours and did not have a single worldly thought. The experience was indescribable. When I returned to normal consciousness I thought no time had passed.

"Sir," I said to my master, "please forgive me."

With that touch my life was transformed. I lost fear and selfishness. I started understanding life properly. I wondered if this experience came about because of my effort or my master's.

His answer was simply, "Grace."

"A human being," he explained, "should make all possible sincere efforts. When he has become exhausted and cries out in despair, in the highest state of devotional emotion, he will attain ecstasy. That is the grace of God. Grace is the fruit that you receive from your faithful and sincere efforts."

Grace is only possible with a disciple who has gone through a long period of discipline, austerity, and spiritual practices. When a student has done these practices and followed the teacher's instructions with all faithfulness, truthfulness, and sincerity, then the subtlest obstacle is removed by the master. The experience of enlightenment comes from the sincere effort of both master and disciple. When you have done your duties skillfully and wholeheartedly, you reap the fruits gracefully. Grace dawns when action ends. Shaktipata is the grace of God transmitted through the master.

Guru is the disciple's guide through life, through the mysterious terrain of the spiritual heart, and into and beyond the realm of death.