IS A GURU?
What is the role of a guru?
Whoever guides you is a guru. Whomever
you consider as superior to you, from whom you can receive blessing and
guidance, is a guru. As things are not
clear to your mind, naturally you have to approach somebody who can guide you.
If everything is clear to you, then you need not approach anybody. The guru is necessary as long as things are not completely clear.
What is the relationship between the guru and the disciple?
A guru is one who initiates a
person into the technique of God-realisation and guides that student
continuously as long as it is necessary for the purpose of carrying on this
technique of meditation for God-realisation. The relationship is as between a
teacher and a student. There is no other relationship.
a guru does not mean a person who just
teaches something. He is not merely connected with learning. His connection is
with spirit, the spirit of God, finally. Learning is a secondary thing. You may
learn or not learn; that is a different matter, but the spirit has to be
established in itself. Towards that purpose, if anybody can guide you until such
time as such guidance is not necessary, that person is the guru.
guru cannot be changed. Once you accept a person as your guide, it
is permanent. You cannot change the guide from time to time.
Rita: If a person chooses a guru,
is there a past association between them?
Every contact has a past association, not only a guru,
but everything. The past association determines the present context, for
every kind of contact.
What happens when the guru drops the body? Is there a sort of
individuality or does he just dissolve in the Universe?
He may retain individuality, if he takes rebirth. If he does not take
rebirth, then there is no individuality, and there will be no relationship
afterwards. It is like the relationship with God at that time, because they have
merged with God. But if they have maintained an individuality still, then, of
course, the relationship continues.
can’t have a relationship with the Absolute. That is not possible, unless you
yourself become the Absolute. If the guru merges
into the Absolute, then there is no relationship. You can’t maintain anything.
It is another way of saying that the relationship is with God Himself. But if
you maintain an individuality, then the relationship will continue. Even in the
next birth, it will continue. Unless there is some individuality, some
personality, a relationship is not possible. You can’t have a relationship
with the Absolute. Only below that level a relationship is possible.
Rita: If a person is still on the
Then the relationship will continue even in the next birth. Whether the
person is alive or dead, that is a different matter. The relationship will
continue. If a relationship was maintained in this life, it will be carried over
into the next life; but if the relationship breaks for any reason, then it
won’t be carried forward. If it continues in this life, it will continue in
the next life, also. If it has ceased in this life for any reason, then, of
course, it won’t be carried over into the next life.
Swamiji, it is not clear. If the aspirant is still on the personal plane
and the guru has merged, what happens?
Then you can’t have any contact with that person. He is not a person at
all. No contact is possible. You must then contact the Absolute; that is all. Or
else find another guru, or take God Himself as the guru, because contacting him is another way of contacting God. So
why do you say “guru” and all
that? It is God only. A person who has merged into God is God only, so he is no
more a guru. He is not a person and,
therefore, he is not a guru also. He
is a Universal Being, so you can not maintain any personal relationship with
him. Otherwise, at lesser levels a relationship is possible.
How can you know if your guru has merged or not?
You cannot know it; it is not possible. You must assume that he has not
merged, and then maintain the psychological relationship. God will bring a
blessing in some way for that. Many devotees consider God as a person, and it
works in some mysterious way. Though God is really not a person, you can
consider Him as a person and He will react as a person, according to your
The guru cannot really change into God, so he must have been God all
Why only he? Everybody is like that. You are also God alone potentially.
So, the relationship with the guru all along is really a relationship
with God, and
it doesn’t change when the guru leaves the body?
You cannot have a relationship with God, because He is impersonal, unless
you consider Him as a
There is no such thing as impersonal relationship, because impersonality means
non-externality. If it is non-external, there is no relation.
Sean: So then the guru is within?
Why do you say “within”? He is everywhere.
An American Visitor: Swamij, in the USA there is a movement that says
that the guru is within; therefore, you don ‘t need to find a
These are all very hasty remarks of people who don’t understand the
gravity of the situation. If the guru is inside, then the world also is inside, so why do you travel
from place to place? You cannot have only one thing inside, and other things
outside. It may be that the guru is
inside in one sense, but he is outside, also.
do people go to colleges and universities when the university is inside the
heart? Can you close all the colleges and universities in the world because they
are inside the heart? They are inside in some sense, but not literally.
There are difficulties in understanding the ultimate problems of life which
go to a scientist in order to learn science, and a philosopher to learn
philosophy. Every art and science requires some guidance from somebody who is
expert in it; otherwise, you could purchase a book and become a driver,
engineer, astronaut, merely by reading a book. That is not adequate. In the
beginning, you require guidance from a competent person. Later on, you may become
competent yourself, in advanced stages. In the earlier stages, personal guidance
is necessary. Otherwise, you may go astray.
American Visitor: Swamiji, one problem
is that many people in the West are raised to be independent and free thinking.
They don ‘t
want to subject themselves to any such discipline.
They must understand what they mean by “free thinking.” Does it mean
thinking anything one likes? Or, is there some system and discipline in thinking?
If not, then what is the use of thinking? They need not think, also. It will be
only an erratic movement of the mind. Freedom and license are two different
things. We may have freedom, but not license.
way in which we behave with another person is also a kind of discipline. If we
behave in any way that we like, then society will crumble one day. Even social
existence would be impossible without a code of conduct. If we want to behave
in any way we like, then others also will behave in any way they like. This is
called rebellion, not society.
cannot be free unless we share a little of our freedom for the sake of freedom
of others also. To the extent that we allow freedom for others, our freedom is
limited, so here comes discipline. We cannot have all the freedom for
ourselves and nothing for others. People have to think a little rationally, and
not make abrupt statements.
THE NECESSITY FOR A GURU
In my own experience, for me, that has been very true, I was interested about people that are very
enlightened—saints like Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi, and even the Buddha,
that did not have gurus...
Everybody had a guide. None did suddenly crop up from the ground. They
had leaders, guides, whether you know them or not. Even Ramakrishna Paramahansa,
the great saint of India, had a guru. Why
should he have a guru? He is a master
himself, and he was the guru of so
many people; yet, he also had a guru for
some good reason.
Even Christ had a guru, and Krishna had a guru. They
were great masters, and still they learned under some teacher. When you have
attained almost a state of perfection, then, of course, there is no need for a guru;
but who can say that one is in perfection? Everybody is on the path only, so
it is better to have somebody who is superior. If you think that there is nobody
superior to you in the whole world, then you do not require a guru;
but, if you think that there are people in the world who are superior to
you, then they will be your guru.
Yes. I understand.
If you say that there is nobody superior to you, then you are the guru
yourself. But, you cannot say that you are most the superior; how is it
to be a little humble. Respect for the elders is always good, and one day or
the other, you will be benefited by that. Anybody can help you, under given
conditions. There is no one who is incapable of rendering some service.
mouse also saved a lion once. How can a mouse save a lion? Can you understand?
One lion was going like this, and a mouse was moving. The mouse said, “Don’t
you come near me. I can help you one day, if the time comes.”
lion laughed. “You idiot, small thing, wanting to help me? What help can you
give?” The lion laughed, but yet the mouse said, “No, one day, who knows?
One day some occasion may arise when I can help you.”
so happened that one day the lion was caught in the net of a hunter. It was very
difficult to get out of it. The lion struggled the whole day and could not break
the net. The mouse came, “May I help you?”
yes, if you can!” said the lion. The whole night this mouse worked. It went on
nibbling the net in many places and loosened it. Then the lion tore it and came
out, and the mouse ran away.
AFTER THE GURU HAS LEFT THE BODY
My problem is that I never felt sure in my heart that I’m in the right
place. My guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, is not in the body, and I only meet representatives
of his, and I have never felt really sure.
He was not in the body even when you saw him in the body. Even at that time, he
was not in the body. People respect their parents, and hang a photograph of them
on The wall of the house in reverence; but when that person departs from this
body, the very thing whose photograph was hung on the wall is consigned to the
earth or the cremation ground. Now, who is it that was revered actually? Was
it that thing which was visible to the eyes and whose photograph was revered? Or
was the person whom you revered something other than what you saw with your
you say you consider that person as the very thing which you .saw with your
eyes, then you have no business to consign that person to the river, or the
fire, or the earth, as if it has no meaning or value; but if you say that the
person whom you revered is not the one whom you are seeing with the eyes, then
your question is answered by yourself.
is a perceptional difference, like the value of a currency note. A currency
note is only a piece of paper whose value is less than half a penny, and you
will call it a thousand dollars if you like. From where comes this value? When
the substance that you are holding in your hand
is not worth half a penny, how are you conceptually revering it as a thousand
dollars? So the value is conceptual, perceptional, valuational, - not
material, physical, visual. This applies to everything that we see in the world,
including human beings and God Himself.
visible is not the real; the invisible is the real. This requires a little time
to think and appreciate. Usually we don’t think in this fashion. We think in
terms of sense organs, physical objects, tangible things, visible things, and we
do not believe that the actual value of things is not in what we see, but in
that which we think only.
value of a currency note is in your thought. It is not the physical substance
that has any value. You may have even a certificate from a bank. The signature
of the manager of the bank is there as a certificate for deposit. All the money
is in the bank only, not in your hand. You have only one signature of that man,
and you are holding it as if the whole world is in your hand. It has no value
except that you believe in your mind that it has a value.
value is mental, psychological, ideational, based on consciousness. Finally,
consciousness is the reality, not the visibility of a thing. You yourself are
not the person sitting in front of me and talking to me. Neither of these two
terms of relation in the conversation can be regarded as one body talking to
another body, nothing of the kind. It is not body talking to body, not body
listening to body. It is a consciousness in you appreciating the manner in which
my consciousness operates. It is a conversation between two terms of
consciousness, and they can be perpetually there, even if the visibility thereof
is not there. Do you understand the point?
So, I can assume that the master’s consciousness is full. If 1 am
unaware, the problem is here?
The difference is only that he is aware and
are not aware, but the fact is the same. You are also some invisible reality,
though you may not be aware of it.
So I should redouble effort at my sadhana?
Yes, yes. We try to do many good things in this world so that we may reap
the fruits thereof in a better future. If no fruit will accrue from your good
deeds, the good deeds will have no meaning. Now, when will you reap the fruits
of your good deeds, knowing well that physical existence in this world is
precarious? Nobody knows how long it will continue. Knowing very well the
brittleness of physical existence, and comparing that condition with our hope
of reaping good fruits of our good actions in the future, who is going to reap
that fruit of good action? It is not this body. So, here is a demonstrable
evidence before you that you are not this body.
you say that you shall reap the fruits of your good actions, the body is not
speaking. The body cannot say that, because it will not last to reap the fruit
of those good deeds. It will not even go there, to the place where the fruits
will be given to you. So, you are a spirit speaking, a consciousness that is
speaking. It is consciousness saying that you shall do good things so that you
shall have a good future, and it is a good future of the consciousness only,
not of the physical body. So, the physical body has no value, finally. It is
only a vehicle, and the rider of the vehicle is more important than the vehicle
THE GURU-DISCIPLE RELATIONSHIP
This is a long question, so I am making it into two parts.
The answer will be short.
This question is for everybody, not only for me. It will be in the
context of disciples, —not only seekers and devotees, —who are not in the
physical proximity of the guru.
The disciple is not in the physical proximity of the guru?
Some are, but for those who are not, can the guru know what is happening?
Anything very serious in his life, because he has total faith in the
guru, which is an omnipresence.
In everybody’s life something happens. There is no one in whose case
something will not happen. So, what is your special question?
Suppose a disciple says, “I have faith. I am going and living by myself
I see my guru off and on; he sees me, he blesses me. The guru says, “Go. You
don’t need to be near me. Do whatever you have to do in life.” So, the
disciple believes that nothing redly drastic will happen to him. But, still it
happens. I understand Swamiji, that everything can happen to anybody...
You mean to say that something that you call drastic should not happen to
Can it be prevented by the guru? Is he aware that it is happening? My
question is whether the guru is aware of it, or not.
The happenings in one’s life are not the creation of the guru,
nor is he responsible for it. Whatever happens to you is because of the
impact created by whatever you thought and did in your previous life. Now, you
want to say that the actions that you did in the previous life should not
produce their effect?
No. Does the guru know? Is he aware that it is happening?
If he knows, in what way are you benefited by that?
I want to know if he knows.
Let him know. In what way are you concerned with that? You want him to
stop the impact of the previous actions?
No, no. This is cause and effect. I understand. It is prarabdha karma.
If your heart is absolutely united with the soul of the guru,
he will respond, and he will guide, and he may even mitigate certain adverse
consequences of the impact of past karmas,
but he cannot remove it. For instance, when a doctor performs a surgery,
there is pain whenever a limb is cut off, but the pain is mitigated by an
anesthesia. So, God or guru, whoever
it is, may act as an anesthesia when some unpleasant experiences have to be
passed through, but they cannot stop the experiences. These will have to be
experienced. You will have to pay for whatever you have done.
Death, of course, who can avoid it?
Sometimes it is avoided, Swamiji. We have read in books by great souls
that have pushed it away a bit.
Why are you against death?
Suzanne: I am not against it. It is not personally for
Do you want to live like an old lady for eternity?
No, Swamiji. I am already too old.
Then why did you say that death should not be there? Death is the process
of the transformation of the whole personality into a new one, which is perhaps
better than the present one. So, who can say that death is bad? The whole
universe is undergoing a process of evolution, and evolution is nothing but
the cessation of the previous condition, and the coming in of the new condition.
Do you want the evolutionary process to stop completely?
No, it may be very good. But, all this is happening with, or without, the
knowledge of the guru?
What you call death is the cessation of the earlier condition, creating a
new condition which you call rebirth. It is neither good nor bad; it is a
necessity. What is your point, finally?
My point is always the awareness of the guru.
If he is aware of what is happening to you, in what way are you
Then, why should we have a guru,
if we are not
In fact, God Himself knows what is happening to you. Then, why do you
want a guru? When God Himself is
capable of knowing whatever happens to you, why do you want a smaller god?
There is no smaller god. There is only one God.
Then, you may call him the guru. So,
there cannot be many gurus then. There
is only one guru, and everybody is a
disciple of one guru only.
Yes, but they don’t think like that, Swamiji. Each one says they have
their separate gurus. So, what is the point?
There is a Guru of gurus who will not
die and vanish from your sight, because He is timeless, unconditioned by the
process of time. Catch hold of him. Then all the gurus will immediately manifest themselves, and no problem will be
there for you. Perhaps you are thinking that the guru is a human person. This is what you are thinking?
No. It starts like this. The contact is like this.
The guru is not the anatomical
framework of a person that you are seeing with your eyes. It is the life that is
operating through that frame of body; otherwise, what is the difference
between a guru and a disciple? Both
are anatomically the same, physiologically the same. They eat the same food,
breathe the same breath, and have the same normal experiences; but there is a
difference. The difference is that there is a light which inundates the Guru’s
personality, which is not so pointedly present in other people. The Guru
is consciousness operating as a mentor or guarding angel.
say sometimes that a great man is coming. When you say this, it does not mean
that a great body is coming. It does not mean that. The greatness of a person
does not lie in the length and breadth of the body of that person. It depends
upon the consciousness that is operating inside. The greatness is the
intensity of consciousness radiating in a person. When consciousness is clouded,
is not operating well, it looks like an ordinary creature moving.
your heart is united with a thing, that thing will know what is happening to
you. It may be the guru, or anything
else; even a tree will respond to you, provided your heart is sunk in it.
Suzanne: Swamij, it means that the awareness of the seeker or disciple
has become the universe of consciousness also, though it may be of a different
degree than the teacher?
SWAMIJI: Yes, right. If your heart is united with a thing, whatever it is, that thing will respond to you like a mother. The Ganga will speak to you, the mountains of the Himalayas will speak, the sun and the moon and .the stars will speak. Everybody is your friend here. They are all gurus only.
(This has been reproduced from "Your Questions Answered" by Swami Krishnananda)
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