What Happens If Your Guru is Imperfect?


Looking for a Suitable Guru

There was once a man of good spiritual impressions who used to attend Satsang classes where he heard that the Guru’s Grace was indispensably necessary for God-realisation. From that very moment he began to search for a Guru to receive instructions and practise Sadhana. He came across many Sadhus and saints but found some fault or other with every one of them. He had a perverted intellect and a narrow-minded; fault-finding nature. Therefore, he was not able to find a Guru. As long as one does not crush one’s pride of intellect and learning and become like a child with intense faith, one cannot find a suitable Guru.

One day while sitting in his house in a sorrowful mood, his wife asked him the reason for his lamentation. He replied that he could not find a Guru who would show him the way to God. His wife suggested that they should both go to the forest at night and sit on the wayside, and the man who happened to pass that way first should be taken as their Guru. The husband agreed.

The next day they went to the jungle and sat on the side of a pathway. It so happened that a thief with some stolen ornaments was hurrying that way. The couple at once caught hold of his feet and took him as their Guru They begged him to teach them, the Guru Mantra.

A Thief for a Guru?

The thief was very surprised and also frightened. They narrated the whole story to him. He was moved by their faith and expressed the truth that he was a thief. The couple, however, would not allow him to go further and insisted that he teach them the Guru Mantra. The thief was alarmed that if he tarried any longer he would be caught. In order to get away somehow, he asked them to bend down, close their eyes and catch hold of their ears. He asked them to remain in that posture until he again ordered them to stand. They obeyed him and assumed the position. They remained like that throughout the night and the next day also. The couple did not take any food or water. In the meantime, the thief was caught and put into prison.

Waited for their (Thief) Guru

Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi were very much moved by their faith. Lakshmi became restless and prayed to the Lord to give them Darshan. Lord Vishnu appeared before them. On seeing the Lord, the couple were pleased but did not open their eyes or stand up. The Lord requested them to stand up but they replied that they would not do so without the permission of their Guru.

Thereupon the Lord appeared before the ruler of the country in a dream and asked him to release the thief from prison. The Rajah thought that the dream was false, but when it was repeated thrice, he at once released the thief. The same night the Lord appeared in the dream of the thief and told him to go to the place where the couple still remained in the same posture as he had ordered, and ask them to open their eyes.

Upon his release the thief immediately proceeded to the jungle and asked the couple to open their eyes and stand up. They did so and explained how the Lord had given them Darshan. The thief too revealed to them his dream and about his release.

A voice from heaven was heard: “I am very much pleased with the intense faith you have in your Guru. Do Bhajan, Japa and meditation regularly. I will give you Darshan and liberate you from the cycle of births and deaths.”

From that day onward the thief also left his habit of stealing and became a devotee of Lord Vishnu. The couple commenced regular Sadhana and Bhajan and became liberated souls while living.

Devotion and obedience to the Guru can achieve anything. Guru Bhakti is the supreme purifier and illuminator. It is devotion to the Guru alone that makes the life of the aspirant blessed and fruitful.

Source: 120-122, Inspiring Stories by Swami Sivananda

Bhakta Pipa

When once you have taken a man as your Guru, you should never change even if you get a man with greater developments or Siddhis. Then only will you have faith. Through strong faith, you will then and there, realise Brahman, the God in that Guru. You must become like the famous Bhakta Pipa of the well-known Bhaktamala, who took a rogue Nata as his Guru and when he saw his Nata Guru dancing on the bamboos in the open market, he took him as Guru, the Brahman incarnate, prostrated before him and thus eventually had his Self-realisation through the form of the rogue-Guru, the Nata.


Source: pg.275, Yoga Samhita by Swami Sivananda

Sadhana — Is it Necessary?


Question 1: Someone I know says that there is not much importance in Sadhana and that it is enough to have faith in one’s Guru.

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Son, a person who has faith in (the Guru) will perform sadhana as (the Guru) instructs. Such a person will live without erring even a little bit. Will your disease be cured if you only believe the doctor but do not take the medicine? Not only that, faith will gain strength and steadiness only if sadhana brings experience. Otherwise, faith will slip into irresoluteness. You cannot progress without sadhana. Can’t you see even jivanmuktas (those who have achieved liberation while tenanting the body) doing meditation and japa (repetitions of the mantra) to set an example? No progress will accrue to him who simply sits saying faith will save me without doing anything. Unquestioning obedience is what is meant by faith and devotion. Whatever the Guru says, one should unconditionally obey.  Do not ask any questions. Do not doubt the Guru. One should unconditionally obey the Guru whatever he says, whether it is doing service to the Guru, service to society, Japa, Dhyana or anything else.” (pgs. 82-83, Awaken, Children! Vol. 3).

Question 2: I do sadhana but I feel empty. Why is this so?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “We do some kind of spiritual practice, and then, dissipate the acquired spiritual energy by indulging in worldly affairs.” (pg. 71, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Whatever spiritual power is gained through meditation and other spiritual practices gets dissipated through indulgence.” (pg. 123, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Question 3: How do we find the time to do sadhana? We are all too busy with work and family.

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Out of 24 hours, allow 22 hours for worldly affairs. Think of Him for at least two hours. Japa should also be done for some time while sitting in solitude. It should be performed whenever you have the time, even at work. (pg. 84, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Question 4: Is it all right if one chants mantras even without knowing the meaning ?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “…if you chant your mantra without knowing its meaning, it has its own powers. Even then, it is better if it is chanted with faith and love. Concentration is also necessary.” (pg. 97, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “…although God’s Name has a power of its own, when we chant it with bhava or concentration, it becomes more powerful.” (pg. 117, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Question 5: Is it necessary to do sadhana everyday? Is it wrong or even harmful to stop sadhana for a day or two?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Do not do sadhana with the intention of making it known to others or to please them. We don’t stop brushing our teeth, taking a shower or eating food because those are necessities. In the same way, we should remember that sadhana is also necessary for us every day. We will stink of we do not take a bath and brush our teeth. It will be troublesome for others also.  We should understand that refraining from doing sadhana is at least as harmful as this. Sadhana should become a part of our life.” (pgs. 122-123, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1).

Question 6: What is the best place to do sadhana?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Sadhana should be done in the presence of a Perfect Master or in an ashram”. (pg. 135, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1).

Question 7: I got a mantra from you; isn’t it enough that I have been accepted as your disciple?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Concentrate on your sadhana…. Mother gave a mantra to everyone. Do not be puffed up because of that and think, ‘I am mother’s disciple.’ Do not feel proud thinking, ‘I have the ticket’ after getting onto a bus or train. If you do not show the ticket when the ticket collector comes, he will immediately make you get off. He will let you alight at your destination only if you use your ticket for the proper place and in the proper way. Otherwise, you will have to get off before your destination.” (pg. 219, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

You may also be interested in the following articles:

https://antaryamin.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/so-amma-is-your-guru-really/

https://theunboundedspirit.com/tv/

The Moment of Surrender


A very important reason why man should try to realise God is that it is the only way to get out of the miseries of the cycle of birth and death. There is no second solution. Mark it carefully. There is no second solution. There is no alternative to realising God if you want to escape the miseries you are subject to. The alternative to God-realisation is to suffer the miseries of mundane existence. If you choose to suffer that, well, you are free to do so. But if you want to escape that, there is only one way out, and that is the spiritual way, the way of Sadhana, of Tapasya, of Abhyasa and Vairagya.

Surrender

Not only that. There is no short-cut to God. You have to traverse the whole distance. The gap, the yawning chasm that separates you from God, has to be fully covered. It takes time. Often it is painful. Sometimes it is so painful that one begins to doubt if all that suffering is worth the while. This is particularly so when God tests the spiritual seeker for his worth. It is like Christ’s crucifixion. Every seeker has to bear the Cross; only it is a different kind of Cross with different seekers. It is no use saying, “Oh! I have all the virtues; I have all the divine qualities, except…except…one imperfection, one little weakness”. No. God is still far away from you.

Surrender2

You cannot realise God who is Perfection while possessing the slightest imperfection, the slightest taint. That is why Mother Saradamani Devi, the worshipful partner of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, prayed the way she did. One full moon night, as she looked up at the sky, a spontaneous prayer arose within her heart: “O God! Bless me that I may become spotless like the yonder full moon”. And, as suddenly, she hesitated. “Father-in-Heaven!” she cried, “Even the full moon has flaws. Make me flawless. Make me immaculate”. Immaculate! That is the word. Flawless. Pure. Perfect. Radiant. Spotless. Immaculate.

self surrender Sivananda-wall

So, even if you possess one single weakness, you cannot realise God. You cannot have Atma-sakshatkara. Remember well that it is no use saying, “I have just this weakness. I lack only in this virtue”. You will be tested by God only in that virtue, precisely in that virtue in which you are wanting. Are you impatient? You will be tested for patience again and again. Do you have a weakness for women? God will send girls, and more girls, to test your mettle. You will have to get over your weakness somehow. Till then you will be faced with the same problem, the same temptation, again and again.

Ethics

Let us see how exactly Maya operates. Suppose, for instance, you succumb at the slightest temptation. Then Maya will confront you with small temptations only, because she is able to achieve her purpose with little effort. But supposing you are morally very strong, though not perfect yet. Then Maya will send powerful temptations, like ravishing damsels, to uproot you from your moral stronghold, as she sent Menaka to Visvamitra. You have to become invulnerable to the most powerful temptation. Then only your spiritual safety becomes foolproof.

When the spiritual seeker is thus repeatedly tested, sorely tried, he feels miserable. Every spiritual seeker has to pass through this stage. It is the process of purification. You will be like the ore in the furnace. It is certainly not a pleasant experience. It is very painful indeed. The seeker begins to ruminate. He feels: “If worldly life was like being in the frying pan, here in this spiritual life, I feel as if I have been thrown into the fire”. And he is dazed. “Is this the choice open to me, after all?” he begins to wonder. If he is weak-willed, he begins to curse his Creator. “What kind of God is He” he cries, “to delight in the miseries of all! He is the greatest sadist. Who wants God?” The part tragic, part comic aspect of the whole situation is that even when the seeker curses his Creator, he is aware of his total helplessness, of his own impotence and God’s omnipotence. Ultimately he breaks down and prays to the very God whom he was abusing and cursing but a little while before. This is surrender, total surrender, unqualified surrender. In that moment of surrender, God’s grace rushes into him, consoles him and comforts him. And peace ensues in the troubled heart … and wisdom.

This article is from the book, What the River has Taught Me by Sri N. Ananthanarayanan. The author was a direct and devout disciple of Swami Sri Sivananda. Some significant details of His life with His Guru can be found at http://www.dlshq.org/announce/memoriamanantha.htm

Is There a Need for a Human Guru?


Question: What is this Guru?

Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: From the standpoint of the path of Knowledge, it is the supreme state of the Self. It is different from the ego which you call yourself.

Question: Can’t one approach God without the Grace of (a human) Guru?

Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: The ego is the individuality and is not the same as the Lord at all. When it approaches the Lord with sincere devotion, He graciously assumes name and form and takes it to Himself. Therefore, they say that the Guru is none other than the Lord. He is a human embodiment of Divine Grace.

Question: But there are some who seem to have had no human Guru at all?

Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: True. In the case of certain great souls, God reveals Himself as the light of the Light from within.

Question: Some people report that (you) deny the need of a Guru. Others say the reverse. What have you to say about this?

Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: I have never said that there is no need for a Guru.

Question: Okay, is there a need for a human Guru?

Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: What is a Guru? Guru is God or the Self. First a man prays to God to fulfil his desires, then, a time comes when he does not preay for the fulfilment of a desire but for God Himself. So, God appears to him in some form or other, human or non-human, to guide him as a Guru in answer to his prayer.

Question: what are the characteristics of a Guru by which one can recognise him?

Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharishi: The Guru is one who at all times abides in the profound depths of the Self. He never sees any difference between himself and others and is quite free from the idea that he is the Enlightened or the liberated One, while those around him are in bondage or the darkness of ignorance. His self-possession can never be shaken under any circumstances and he is never perturbed.

Source: pgs. 94, 95, 96, 97, The teachings of Ramana Maharshi

Question: Who is capable of giving me the Divine wisdom, that which gives me Self-realisation?

Swami Sivananda: Divine wisdom, according to Sri Krishna, should be sought at the feet of a liberated Guru, one who has realised the Truth.

Question: How should one approach such a Guru?

Swami Sivananda: The aspirant should approach such a sage in a spirit of humility and devotion. God Himself manifests in the heart of the Guru and instructs the disciple. Having understood the Truth from the Guru by direct intuitive experience the aspirant is no longer deluded by ignorance.(Summary of Gita’s Fourth Discourse)

Question: Can’t I study the scriptures like the Gita on my own and understand what God wants me to understand? Do I need a Guru even for that?

Swami Sivananda: “…without the help of a Guru, you will not be able to understand the proper meaning of the verses of the Gita. You will be like the man who brought a horse to one who asked for saindava while taking food. The word saindava means salt as well as horse!” (pg. 9, Bhagavad Gita [Divine Life soceity, South African Edition]

Question: Is there any reference in the scriptures that say the greatness of the truly enlightened Guru?

If (God) becomes angry, the Guru can save (the individual who has been the subject of God’s anger), but when the Guru gets angry (with an individual), even (God) cannot save him. So, the Guru should be served with the utmost care.” [pg. 727, Canto 7, Chap. 36, verse 26, Srimad Devi Bhagavatam]   

You Talk A Lot About Your Guru BUT…


Mata Amritanandamayi: “This is not an easy path, and there is pain involved….Faith and self-surrender Have become limited to words. More speaking and less doing is the policy of the modern age, and the tendencies of the mind are stronger than before. No one wants to be disciplined. Everyone wants to keep their ego, it is so precious to them. People think that the ego is an embellishment; it is not considered to be a burden anymore. People do not feel the heaviness of their ego. They feel comfortable inside its small, hard shell. They feel afraid and insecure to come out of it. They think that they are well protected where they are. For them, what lies beyond the shell of their ego is frightening, it is unknown, and therefore, unsafe…

“Surrendering to a Master is not easy. It needs courage. It is like jumping into a flowing river. The Master is the flowing river. Once you jump in, the current will inexorably take you to the sea. There is no escape. You may struggle and try to swim against the current, but the river is so strong that it is bound to take you to the ocean — to God or the Self —that is your real dwelling place. To jump in is to surrender. It needs a courageous mind, because it can be compared to the death of your body and mind.

“You may not take the plunge now, because you are not yet ready to jump into the Deep waters of the river. For the time being, you may want to remain standing on the river bank enjoying the beauty of the river. You may want to enjoy the cool gentle breeze, the constant chatter of the running water, the power and charm of the river. That is fine. The river is not going to force you to jump in, and you can stand there for as long as you like, because it won’t send you away. It is not going to say, ‘Enough is enough! Go away! There is a long waiting list!’ Nor is it going to say, ‘Okay the time has come! You either jump into me right now, or I will force you!’ No, nothing of the sort. It is all up to you. You can either jump in or stay on the shore. The river is simply there. It is always willing to accept and to cleanse you.

“The river of the Master does not have an ego. It does not think, ‘I am flowing, I am powerful and beautiful. I have the power to take you to the ocean. In fact, I am the ocean. See how many people bathe and swim in me, and how they find delight in me!’ No, the river of the Master has no such feelings. It just flows because its nature is to do so.

“But once you dive in, the current is such that you will become almost like a corpse. You will find yourself so powerless that you have no other choice but to simply be still and let the river carry you wherever it wants. You have the freedom to choose. You can either remain on the shore, or dive in. But once you take the leap, you do not have a choice anymore; you will lose your individuality, you will have to give up your ego. At that point, you disappear, and you find that you are floating in pure consciousness.

“So, you are free to stay on the shore. But for how long? Sooner or later, you will either have to turn and go back to the world, or you will have to jump. Even if you return to the world, the beauty and charm of the river is so enchanting and so tempting that you will keep on coming back. The day will come when you will be tempted to take that final leap, and finally you will dive in — it has to happen.

“While standing on the shore, you may have many things to say about the river. You will sing its praises, you will describe its beauty, you will have many opinions about it, and you have unending stories to tell about the river, and its history. But you are describing the river, and telling stories about it without having taken a dip in it even once. And whatever you may say about the greatness of the river without having gone into it, is Simply meaningless. Once you finally dive in, once you surrender to the River of Existence – the Perfect Master – you will be silent. You will have nothing to say.

“Surrender makes you silent. Surrender destroys the ego, and helps you to experience your nothingness and God’s omniscience. Once you know that you are nothing, that you are totally ignorant, then you have nothing to say. You have only unconditional and undivided faith; you can only bow down in utmost humility. In order to really know, one should be humble. The ego and real knowledge are not compatible. Humility is a sign of true knowledge.

“There are people who are good speakers. They tend to have big egos. There are exceptions, but the general tendency is to speak more and do less. Why? Because they haven’t surrendered to a higher reality, to the higher values of life. They have not really accepted God’s all-powerful nature, and become aware of their own nothingness, even though they may speak about it.Such people may do a lot of good for the world, but they also do a lot of harm…

“When you surrender to a higher consciousness, you give up all your claims; you Release your grip from everything that you’ve been holding on to. Whether you gain or lose, it doesn’t matter now. You don’t want to be something any longer. You long to be nothing, absolutely nothing. So you dive into the River of Existence.

“The ego, or the mind, is that which makes you feel that you are something. Unless it is eliminated, you cannot dive deep into your own consciousness. you have to become nothing. Not even a trace of, ‘I am something’ should remain. If you are something, there is no entry into the realm of pure consciousness.”

(pgs. 159-163, Awaken, Children! Vol 7)