In the midst of life, we are in doubt. Just when we think we have scaled a particularly troublesome mountain, or crossed a remarkably nasty experience and escaped unscathed, some new event or obstacle rises. And we wonder, can we do it? Can we manage this? How do we sail through these new rough seas? Don’t we need a little more help at the steering wheel?
So you’re thinking, “Ah, yes, the Guru must be the additional help at the steering wheel”. Actually, no. The Guru isn’t the additional help at the wheel, he isn’t your first mate, he’s not even the captain. He is the boat. He (or she, both are equally possible) steers you, yes, but he also carries you through the turbulent waters that face a seeker of the light.
And therein lies a little nugget – you must be a seeker. If you are eager to learn, to know, and amass all the information in the world, then what you need, and will eventually get, is a teacher. An Acharya, a teacher, is one who instructs, who endows knowledge, who enriches with his unimaginable wealth of teaching. A Guru does something quite different. He removes the darkness. So while an Acharya will light your candle, a Guru will set alight a flame inside you, which will forever banish the night of ignorance. And so, while a student knows, a seeker understands. A student learns, a seeker realizes. A student conquers the world outside, a seeker masters the realms within.
In the ancient Vedic traditions, this mastery of inner realms is not some esoteric knowledge, and the guru’s contribution is not some obscure, metaphysical concept. It is a real physical presence, that connects with you, measurably heightens your energies and guides you higher and higher as you scale the hazardous and slippery slopes of self-exploration. The Guru’s grace is an ever-present, non-negotiable, reliable force that shines upon you with the certainty of sunlight – and the same brilliance as well.
The glitch (and every story has one) is that not all Gurus lead you the same way. Some lead you with compassion. Others test you with the most intricate and unsurmountable challenges. Why? Certainly not because it is their whim and fancy to do so. Simply because a guru truly sees which way you must be tuned, so that the ultimate harmony will rise from within you.
Perhaps the most famous of all Gurus, the Buddha, once had a disciple who was a musician. This young boy threw away his instruments, immersed himself in the most severe and stringent of meditations deep within the forest, and sought enlightenment. As he starved and wasted away, his fellows wondered and worried what would become of him. The Buddha approached him then, holding a violin. When the young meditator opened his eyes, the Buddha asked him to play the violin for him. Ecstatic at the prospect of playing for his Guru, the young boy held his hand out for the instrument. Buddha handed him the violin, strings so loose they dangled like spaghetti from both ends. The boy looked crestfallen. Buddha noted his expression and told the boy, “Hand me the instrument, and I will tune it for you”. The boy did so, and Buddha tightened the strings so hard, that when the boy lifted the violin to play, it cut his fingers. The boy was shattered that he could not play for his Guru, until the Buddha explained, “No violin that is too loose or too tight can produce any music worth listening to.”
The boy understood. He left his hardened practices and his rock in the forest, and followed Buddha back into the city, to live, to breathe, and to seek.
This video explains the role of a Guru more, and how to go about finding one.
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