Finding a Teacher and surrendering ourselves into their service and guidance – the basis of all spiritual practice and progress. Guru is defined in Monier-Williams Sanskrit dictionary as “heavy, weighty . . . serious, momentous, difficult to digest.” Swami Sivananda said “to light a candle one needs another burning candle; in the same way, those who are unenlightened need the help of an illumined Guru.”
Provides a visual road map, a living example through constant teachings and guidance on the spiritual path, particularly if we are in close physical proximity to our Teacher, or in advanced practice, through visualization.
Infuses the student with whatever constellation of mental afflictions are necessary in any given moment in order to teach them something; manifests as heavy, intense, controversial or as light, gentle, soft – morphs in any form required to bring students to a state of peace; exercises whatever means necessary to help infinite numbers of beings. By necessity this can sometimes look confusing because it is always what we need, as opposed to what we want.
Subtle Body Benefits
Accelerates and intensifies the awakening of subtle body most dramatically by neutralizing pranic congestion in the nadis. Guru does this through exposing our own darkness - the mental blocks and obstacles that veil our light - not something many of us are inclined to do on our own! Guru provides the right practices at the right time to decongest our bodies, minds and souls.
Enables skillful and clear vision of how to “download” to others the best and quickest spiritual path for individual students and ultimately, countless beings. Degree to which we develop this skill is directly correlated to our relationship with our own Teacher. Karmically, teaching others what Guru has taught us is our ticket to enlightenment, because it ensures that we can actualize Guru’s teachings, which are always and only ultimate, sustained happiness for all.
Ultimately, the Guru is the only one we can trust to show us that we can’t trust anyone or anything in our lives at all until we understand one thing - how to develop 100% trust in our own karma and how it is playing out for us. As long as there is even a shard of doubt about this, we will be unable to trust anyone in our lives. When we think someone has done something to us, and decide they are untrustworthy, we have failed to understand how it is that we can avoid such untrustworthy people or events through the perfection of ourselves.
Whether we choose to believe that God creates all that we need in any given moment so we can join Her/Him in heaven, and trust in Him/Her fully, or whether we choose to believe that we have caused everything in our lives by virtue of our own past actions, words and deeds, and trust in this process fully, the effect is the same - we gradually learn to create totally trustworthy causes for love and happiness that actually last! They are reproducible causes of a specific effect.
Finding a Guru if we don’t yet have one is simply a matter of coming to a strong personal belief that we need one. That’s really all there is to it. This conviction may come after a protracted period of believing that we don't need a Teacher, that we know what to do, and that we know this best. Then there may come an extremely low and dark period in our lives - it is during such a time that we are ready for our Guru to appear. And appear they must - particularly if we ask.
The surrender to the Guru that ensures the most powerful results from the Teacher/Student relationship has nothing to do with any requirement on the Guru’s part that we surrender to them. In fact, this should raise some red flags. When we meet our Guru, there is a deep, unshakeable certainty that they hold the key, and once we request this key, we have bound ourselves to them. This is called yoga - yoking ourselves to our Guru. It is through this connection that the teachings pass - the connection that we have established. In this way, we have empowered our Guru to be able to teach us anything at all. There is no other way it happens.
Once we have digested all that our Guru has taught and continues to teach us, the perfect counterpose is to teach others what our Teacher has taught us.
Tips from Deep Retreat
The first thing that can happen when we “find” our Guru is that mental afflictions and obstacles come up, hard and fast! One alarming one that we experienced during our retreat was a furious anger with the Guru. We wanted to blame them for causing us to end up in this three year retreat commitment! To this, our Guru responded that it's much worse to feel guilty and bad about being so angry at the Guru than the anger itself.
Just as common for us was the certainty that actually, we knew better than our Guru what was right for us! This delusion afforded us countless hours of antidote practices.
If we actually manage to follow their advice and carry out their instruction, there can be an insidious effect of thinking that now, we have risen above them! Ditto to those antidote practices.
Watch for “bad lists” - this is where we mentally list all the “bad” things about our Guru. We suggest immediately cutting off this train of thought at the root with “good lists” - that’s where we constantly list only those divine qualities and goodnesses of our Guru that attracted us to them in the first place. By the way, this also works well with a partner or boss or parent or child who is looking less than perfect.
When the Guru, or partner, or boss or . . . does something completely insane, something that makes us think “that’s it, I’m outta here,” that is the moment when we have to practice what the Guru has taught us. We may very well have to “get out of there,” but most importantly, we must delve deep into ourselves to understand why our Guru has chosen to manifest themselves to us in this intolerable way, and what we need to learn.
This extrapolates to all the people and things in our lives - there is a Guru-like essential nature to everything and everyone. If we can see it that way, then our spiritual path will be vastly accelerated.
Absolutely essential to understand why our Teacher appears the way they do – as a direct reflection of our having been effective and selfless teachers to others if we see our Teacher this way; and if not, well – we know what to do!