We all need teachers. We don’t come out of the womb understanding prepositions or dangling participles. These are things we learn from those wiser than we are and with gooder grammar.
What is a guru?
The guru, or dispeller of darkness, is a person who lifts the veil of confusion and helps us to see the light of truth. These holy people live a unique existence which requires extraordinary commitment.
In the 15th century, Guru Nanak once set out for a bath and ended up staying submerged under water for three days in order to find enlightenment. As the story goes, his breath was so deep and so still that he could sustain himself.
I don’t know about you, but if I met that guy and he wanted to tell me a bit about life, I would probably take his word for it.
The guru-student connection is part of the tradition of yoga.
In the yoga world, the relationship of guru and student is one of profound significance. Thousands of years of history serve to show the importance of this deep bond between teacher and student, but the actual physical manifestation of the guru can take many forms.
Although your guru might be a very flawed human, his or her teachings will have the most profound impact on your life. Even if they seemed to be a total dick at first, the people who kind of ruined my life were also the biggest catalysts for change and improvement in my life.
In our Western yoga community, many of us connect to the idea of the guru, and we perhaps even seek out this dynamic. Many have this relationship with an actual person they know. You can also share this bond with someone you have never met but with whom you feel an affinity.
Gurus are human too.
Few Mahagurus have walked the face of this planet. These great gurus have a finely tuned consciousness that is able to bridge the spiritual world with the regular world where the rest of us just flail around.
As students of yoga, however, we have to be able to distinguish between the ultimate ideal and reality. Just because someone is a guru and does great things, that doesn’t mean that he or she hasn't also done some really shitty things in the past.
Remember that most of these gurus are, in fact, humans, and may have a variety of their own imperfections. We also have to be open to the idea that sometimes their teachings may not be what you expect.
Ignite your inner guru.
Even though we can learn from others, we can also learn so much from ourselves.
We don’t want to form a dependency where we no longer trust our own intuition and are always turning to others for guidance. Instead, we also have to honor the teacher inside of us.
The more we quiet our minds and stop focusing on what’s outside of us, the louder our inner guru will become. ~Toni Nagy
Most of the time, you already know the answers to the questions you are asking. You just don’t want to hear them because perhaps they point you to the harder path. Yet, when you take the time to follow your instincts without the static of outside influence, you start to trust yourself.
Ultimately, the only person you can ever truly know is you. The more you can connect to your own inner guru, the more empowered you will feel in your life.
As Joseph Campbell says:
“You enter the forest
at the darkest point,
where there is no path.
Where there is a way or path,
it is someone else's path.
You are not on your own path.
If you follow someone else's way,
you are not going to realize