“So long as you have faith in your Guru, nothing will be able to obstruct your way.” — Vivekananda, 1896
This quote (that Marty provided) is one of the most beautiful things I have recently seen. It immediately made me think of my teacher. Through his presence and his words, he touched a place within me. It is as if he somehow lit a candle deep within me that once lit, could never go out. The guru lights the way. It has struck me over the years to see people who have read and studied Vedic knowledge without the influence of a true, real, and living guru. It underscores for me the understanding that real spiritual knowledge can not be attained from books. It is too subtle. Such knowledge succumbs to the ‘I get it syndrome’. People think they ‘get it’, but they do not. The words may be there, but the understanding is not. As it is said, knowledge exists in the gaps between the words. It is the guru that clarifies the knowledge.
The spiritual tragedy of our time is that so many think of themselves as spiritually knowledgeable, when they are not. Then many of them go out and teach, leading so many well intended people astray.
Finding a real guru is far more challenging and precious than many understand. All too often people are swayed by the drama or presentation: flowing robes, an appealing accent, a trip abroad, an awe inspiring moment and they are convinced they found a real living guru. Real gurus are far rarer than most spiritual seekers can even imagine.
The truth is, finding a real guru has more to do with the depth of their being and knowledge than any superficial criterion you may be holding on to. And depth of knowledge does not mean volume of facts memorized. More is not better. Better is better.
Now why would Vivekananda say ‘so long as you have faith in your Guru…?” Isn’t faith in your guru a given? Well, not always. I have seen people walk away from a real teacher for the most ridiculous reasons. Maybe they projected on to the guru that he did not like them. Maybe the guru’s correction of the person’s behavior or thinking pushed the ego too much. Some people cannot tolerate the idea that they were wrong or behaved in a not ideal manner. When you are too vested in the ego, it can seem intolerable at times to even have a guru.
Once someone said to my guru, “I love you so much, but what if you asked me to go jump off a cliff? Should I do it?” My guru responded with a shaking of his head “no”, as he said, “You know me by my teachings.” Faith in the guru means knowing him by his teachings… knowing him by what he touches deep within you through those teachings. There will be times when a glance or action of the guru may not sit completely right with you. That may be more about you than him. He is a being that is acting in this world… a world of imperfection. To live better, you must look deeper. By all means, be discerning. Any real guru would insist upon that. But be clear on who and what he really is and do not judge him by inane criterion that you have, in reality, come to him to help you overcome.
More than a few times throughout the years I have been told I live in accord with my teachings and never contradict myself or those teachings. My teacher was that way. It resonated with the divinity within me and has guided my life all these years. Divinity is within you. It IS you. The guru just more fully awakens you to it. Stay with that and “nothing will be able to obstruct your way.”