On rare occasions there are born individuals whose lives significantly impact the lives of thousands and even millions of other people. These people are born under all kinds of different circumstances. Some are born poor, some rich, some educated, some not.
What is it exactly that makes these people as special as they are? What makes it possible for them to rise above the normal day to day struggle that most of us seem to get caught in. What allows them to reach out and touch others so powerfully and profoundly?
In the tradition of Yoga, the importance of the Guru is stressed over and over again in nearly every major spiritual text.
Who and what is the Guru? Why is the role of the Guru in yoga practice given such great prominence and importance?
In order to answer this question it is important to understand the essential nature of the Self.
In the practice of yoga we are continually encouraged to explore, to know the Self.
Each of us knows ourselves to be of body and mind. We are physical and mental/emotional beings.
What yoga teaches us is that there is a part of us that is also spirit or soul. What yoga teaches us is that we are spiritual beings, as well as, being physical and mental.
Most of us primarily identify with the physical and mental aspects of ourselves. However, as we use the practice of yoga to purify our bodies and minds, we begin to discover a much deeper and more powerful aspect of ourselves. This is the part of us that is more purely aware. This is the part of us that is an transcendental energy that connects us to all things.
When we begin to be aware of this deeper part of ourselves, then we begin to begin to experience what is referred to in spiritual books as the true Self.
The word Guru literally means "that which turns darkness into light". Which means that the Guru is any part of ourselves and of reality that brings the light of wisdom to the darkness of our own ignorance.
The Guru in the form of a human being is that person who is the primary guide in the process of any kind of spiritual awakening that may undergo. A Guru is someone who has themselves made a supreme dedication to awakening the light of wisdom within themselves. It is someone who not only speaks about and thinks about the ideas of spiritual truth, but lives them in their own lives. They literally are an example of the potential of what it means to be a human being.
The relationship that one has with a Guru can vary with depth and intensity. It really depends on where each particular student is in his or her own particular stage of development. In the highest levels of spiritual practice, the relationship one has with one's Guru is extremely intense and intimate. In that highest form of relationship the level of trust and faith that is developed is unlike any other.
At any level, the relationship that one has with the Guru is imminently more powerful than trying to navigate yourself through the maze of one's own mind and ego wholly on your own. Many people will argue that the role of the Guru is true spiritual practice is absolutely essential. Without the guidance and supervision of the Guru, most people would surely get lost in the process of attempting to reach more advanced spiritual levels of development.
It is almost never a forgone conclusion that each person will be able to find a suitable Guru for themselves. Many people search many years before finding a person who can act in the capacity of a true Guru. Finding a genuine Guru is seen as one of the greatest of spiritual blessings.
The reason why the presence of a Guru in one's life is so powerful is that the Guru is a true and deep reflection of the glory and light of one's own true Self. Thus, the Guru is merely an outward manifestation of that which is within each and every one of us. It is important to remember that the true light of the Guru is not only reflected by the external Guru, but is also present deep within our own hearts.
To be continued....