One who is versed in Vedas, who has knowledge of Brahman, who has a balanced mind, who is an ocean of mercy and who is able to remove the doubts and avarana of the aspirants is a real Guru.
A true Sat Guru is absolutely free from passion, anger, selfishness, greed, hatred and egoism. He is beyond worldly temptations. He is able to remove the ignorance of people. He can clear any kind of doubt. He can give practical, easy lessons to control the mind and the senses. His instructions are very impressive. Even an arrogant proud man bends his head before him. He is able to take the students to the door of Moksha. He can remove the obstacles, pitfalls and snares on the path. He is versed in the Vedas. He is sinless. He is an ocean of mercy. He is a friend to all.
Doubtless there is a dearth of genuine Gurus. But there is a dearth of genuine disciples as well.
Aspirants complain: “We cannot get good Gurus these days.” Gurus also complain: “We do not get good disciples these days.” Who is right? Who is wrong? Can a patient gauge the merits of a doctor as soon as he enters the consultation room? Ignorant disciples who have not even an iota of experience in the spiritual path at once begin to test and examine the Gurus. They make serious remarks, some hasty, wrong conclusions and inferences from external appearances and ways of living. Paramahamsas have different mysterious ways of living. Even though you live with them shoulder to shoulder for twelve years, you can hardly understand their hearts and depth of knowledge. Jnana and spiritual experiences are internal states. Foolish disciples run from one Guru to another Guru. Pitiable is their lot!
Do not dig here and there shallow pits for getting water. The pits will dry soon. Make a very deep pit in one place. Centralise all your efforts here. You will get good water throughout the year. Even so, try to imbibe thoroughly the spiritual teachings from one preceptor alone. Drink deep from one man. Sit at his feet for some years. There is no use of wandering from one man to another man out of curiosity, losing faith in a short time.
With the help of one light you can light up several other lights. Even so, a realised soul can make several others to realise God, provided they are in a fit condition to receive the light imparted by him. Therefore, serve your preceptor with great devotion. Out of compassion on you one day or other he will enlighten you. He will lift you up. Wait patiently. Surrender yourself unto him completely.
He alone who sits at the lotus feet of a preceptor, who has knowledge of the Self and who is also well-versed in scriptural knowledge is able to grasp the Truth. In the Bhagavad Gita Chap. IV-34, Lord Krishna says: “Know it by means of prostration to the Guru, interrogation and service. The wise who have cognised the Truth will instruct thee in that knowledge of the Self.”
Initiation into the mysteries of Brahman will fructify only in that disciple’s mind who is desireless and will produce Jnana in him.
It takes a long time for the charcoal to catch fire, but gun powder can be ignited within the twinkling of an eye. Even so, it takes a long time for igniting the fire of knowledge for a man whose heart is impure. But an aspirant with great purity of heart gets knowledge of the Self within the twinkling of an eye, within the time taken to squeeze a flower by the fingers.
Unless you are pure, you will not be able to realise the true greatness of a liberated sage. When he appears before you, you will take him for an ordinary man, and you will not be benefited. You will try to find out defects in him on account of your fault-finding nature (Dosha Drishti). Even if Lord Krishna or His Holiness remains with you, He will not do anything for you, unless you are fit to receive Him, unless you are ready to receive the spiritual instructions.
It is quite true that mere Grace of a Guru, his touch, sight or Sankalpa can work wonders, but that does not mean that the disciple should sit idle. Guru will show the path and remove obstacles, snares and pitfalls. The student will have to place his feet on the rungs of the ladder of Yoga. The Gita says: “uddharet atmana atmanam na atmanam avasadayet-Let him raise the Self by the Self, let him not lower himself.” Chap. VI. 5.
Guru’s Grace is needed by the disciple. This does not mean that the disciple should sit idle and expect a miracle from the Guru to push him directly into Samadhi. The Guru cannot do Sadhana for the student. He can guide the student, clear his doubts, pave the way, remove snares, pitfalls and obstacles and throw light on the path. The disciple himself will have to place each foot step in the spiritual path. He himself will have to place his step on each rung of the ladder of Yoga.
You will have to place each step yourself in the spiritual path or rung of the ladder of Yoga. No miracle will happen to push you into Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Teachers can inspire you and remove your doubts and pitfalls. Introspect, find out weaknesses and remove them. Be regular in your meditation. You will reach the goal quickly.
Realisation cannot come to the student as a miracle done by the Guru. Lord Buddha, Lord Jesus, Rama Tirtha, several other gurus have all done spiritual Sadhana. Lord Krishna prescribes: “vairagya abhyasa-dispassion and practice.” He did not say to Arjuna: “I will give you Mukti directly.”
When there is intense urge from within to take the definite steps in the spiritual path, you will have to take recourse to rigorous Sadhana. But the Sadhana must be well-regulated and gradual. There must be ladder-like ascent like the rise of temperature in Typhoid fever. You must place your footstep in the Yoga ladder just as you place your footstep in the staircase.
Distance has nothing to do between a Master and a disciple. It is the nearness of the heart that counts. There must be perfect unity between the Guru and the aspirant. Only then the disciple will be immediately benefited.
The sun is at a great distance and yet the lotus rejoices in the morning as soon as it beholds the sun. The moon is far away yet the lady-of-the-lake bursts into joy when it sees the moon. The clouds are at a long distance and yet the peacock dances in joy when it sees the clouds. Even so, friends may be separated by a long distance and yet they can be well-united in bonds of friendship and love. Distance is no bar. Gurus and disciples may live in distant places and yet the Gurus may help their disciples by their strong spiritual thought-currents.
This is a strange world. We have to learn many lessons. Even the disciple who was devoted to his Guru tries to destroy his own beloved Master at a later time. Many obstacles will come for the growing aspirant at every step. These will develop his soul-force; inner strength and power of endurance. The aspirant will have to show his strength when he is placed in adverse condition. He should think and feel that nothing has happened.
If you have no Guru, take God, Lord Krishna, Lord Siva or Rama as your Guru. Pray to Him. Meditate on Him. Sing His Name. Remember Him. He will send you a suitable Guru. A personal Guru is necessary in the beginning. He, the Guru of Gurus alone can show you the path to attain God and obviate the snares and pitfalls on the path.
A spiritual Master comes to you with a boat. He says, “Come! If you want to go to the Golden Shore, I will take you. Moreover, once you get into my boat, you can sing in the boat, you can dance, you can even sleep; but I will bring you safely to the Goal.”
For millennia we have been swimming in the sea of ignorance. When we become awakened, we want to swim across that sea into the ocean of Light and Delight. If we know that there is a boatman, and that there is a boat which can safely carry us to our goal, then naturally we will try to get help from him. A genuine spiritual Master knows the way and is bound to help us reach the goal. Like a boatman, he will carry us to the other shore.
If anybody helps you in the outer world — a lawyer or a doctor, for example — he will charge you something. But when the Guru takes you to your goal, he will not take anything for himself. You don’t have to give even an iota of your wealth to the Guru because he has his own infinite wealth. Eventually you will see that it is all the same wealth. His goal, your goal, everybody’s goal is the same: Infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. The spiritual Master says, “You are hungry. I have an infinite supply of the divine food that you want, so I don’t have to take any of yours.”
In human life, if people see that someone has taken help, then they may say, “Oh, he could not do it alone.” But a person who is really hungry for God will say, “No matter who offers the food, I am hungry and I want to eat immediately. This is the food that I have been crying for all my life and he is supplying me with it. As long as he is feeding true Divinity to me, let me eat.”
If you feel that by accepting a Master you are avoiding your own responsibilities, you are making a mistake. For at that time you are separating yourself from your master. It is only by feeling your oneness with your master that you can make real progress. If you feel that you are a stranger or an intruder in your master’s heart, or even if you think that you are just a guest, then you will never succeed in your spiritual life. How long can you stay at your friend’s place as a guest? A few days or a month, and then you will have to go away. Even if you feel that you are coming as a friend, still you may go away. But if you feel that his house is your house, then you are safe, eternally safe.
When the disciple and the master find themselves safe in one another’s heart, the hour of initiation is fast approaching. When the Master initiates someone, he gives that person a portion of his life-breath. At the time of initiation, the Guru makes a solemn promise to the individual seeker and to the Supreme that he will do his best to help the seeker in his spiritual life, that he will offer his heart and soul to take the disciple into the highest region of the Beyond. The Master says to the Supreme, “Unless and until I have brought this child to You, I shall not leave him; my game shall not be over.” And to the disciple he says, “From now on, you can count on me; you can think of me as your own.”
At the time of initiation, the Master actually takes on the disciple’s teeming imperfections, both from the present incarnation and from past incarnations. Of course, there are real and sincere spiritual Masters, as well as false Masters. Some Masters who are very sincere only initiate one disciple a month. After they initiate the disciple, they fall sick and suffer terribly, because they have actually taken on the disciple’s imperfections. Again, there are some spiritual Masters who are able to initiate many disciples without suffering, because they have the capacity to throw the imperfections they take on into the Universal Consciousness. But again, there are some false Masters who initiate fifty, sixty or a hundred disciples at a time, or who initiate by proxy. But this kind of mass initiation is an absurd deception.
The Guru can initiate the disciple in various ways. He can perform the initiation in India’s traditional way, while the disciple is meditating. He can also initiate while the disciple is sleeping or when the disciple is in his normal consciousness, but calm and quiet. The Guru can initiate the disciple through the eyes alone. He will look at the disciple, and immediately the person will be initiated — but nobody will know. A Master can also perform a physical initiation, which is to press the head or the heart or any part of the body of the disciple. At this time, he tries to make the physical consciousness feel that initiation has taken place. But along with this physical action, the Guru will initiate the disciple in a psychic way. At that time the Guru sees and feels the soul of the disciple and acts upon the soul. Initiation can also be done by occult processes or in a dream. If there is no spiritual Master available at the time, God Himself can take a very luminous human form in your dream or during your meditation and can initiate you Himself. But this is very rare. Most of the time initiation is done by a Master.
When the Guru initiates a disciple, he accepts the disciple unreservedly and unconditionally. Even if the disciple goes away after initiation, finding fault with the Guru, the Guru will act in and through that disciple forever. The disciple may even go to some other Guru, but the Guru who has initiated him will always help that particular seeker in the inner world. And if the new Guru is noble enough, then he will allow the original Guru to act in and through the disciple. Although the physical connection with the original Guru is cut off, and physically the Guru is not seeing the disciple, spiritually he is bound to help him because he has made a promise to the Supreme.
Even if the disciple does not go to any other Guru but simply falls from the path of Truth, still his original Guru has to keep his promise. The disciple may drop from the spiritual path for one incarnation, two incarnations or even many incarnations, but his Guru — whether he be in the body or in the higher regions — will constantly watch over the disciple and wait for the opportunity to help him actively when he again turns to the spiritual path. The Guru is truly detached, but just because he made a promise to the disciple and to the Supreme in the disciple, the Guru waits indefinitely for an opportunity to take the disciple to the Goal.
When a Master of a very high order tells you that you have an eternal relationship with him, he is speaking on the strength of his absolute oneness with the Supreme and with your soul. He knows that you will always be under his inner guidance. And when you realise the Highest, you will see that the supreme Consciousness which you have realised is the same as the Consciousness that the Master represented on earth. A real spiritual Master embodies the infinite Consciousness of the Supreme and represents that Consciousness on earth.
When the Master speaks of an eternal relationship, this relationship is one of mutual acceptance. The Master does not say, “Whether you are aware of it or not, I shall keep my eternal connection with you, and we shall be eternally one.” No, if the Master really has the capacity to establish this eternal relationship with the disciple, then he also has the capacity to make the disciple feel that he has done it. The Master offers this message to the seeker’s soul, and the seeker feels that his inner connection with his Master will last forever. Then with his utmost sweetness, concern, compassion, gratitude and pride, the Master accepts the disciple wholeheartedly and permanently. And the disciple will also have the same feeling for the Master; he will feel that the Master is not a separate entity but is his very own. He will feel that the very highest, which he calls the Master, is his own most illumined part. When he has that kind of feeling, that kind of realisation, then the eternal relationship between the Master and the disciple can dawn.
The eternal relationship between the Master and the disciple is significant only in the case of a realised Master. If the Master is not fully realised, then he is only fooling the disciple. There are many gurus who have not realised God but simply say, “Oh, we have an eternal connection. I will take care of you even after I leave the body.” When this type of guru leaves the body, the disciple may cry to his Master constantly, but he will get no response. Even when he is on the physical plane, this type of Master can be of no use. He only makes false promises.
The main purpose of initiation is to bring the soul to the fore. If there is no initiation, the purification of the body, vital, mind and heart can never be complete. If there is no initiation, then the highest Goal can never be realised. This flowering of the initiation is really more than initiation. It is the revelation of the disciples’ own inner divinity. At that moment they feel that they and their Guru have totally become one. They feel that their Guru has no existence without them, and that they have no existence without their Guru. The Guru and the disciple mutually fulfil each other and feel that this fulfilment is coming directly from the Supreme. And the greatest secret the disciple learns from the Guru is this: that only by fulfilling the Supreme first can he fulfil the rest of the world.
How can the Guru fulfil the Supreme? The Guru plays his part by taking the ignorance, imperfection, obscurity, impurity and unwillingness from the disciple and carrying them faithfully and devotedly to the Supreme. The disciple fulfils the Supreme by constantly staying in the Guru’s boat and in the inmost recesses of the Guru’s heart, and by feeling that he exists only for the fulfilment of his Master. Him to fulfil, him to manifest: this is the only meaning, the only purpose, the only significance of the disciple’s life.