The Role of the Teacher

adi shankaracharya with disciples

Many of us begin as wanderers in the ocean of life. We seek purpose and fulfillment. We accumulate karmas, which bind us to the cycle of life. Until the karmas are exhausted, our soul endlessly goes through this cycle of life, death and rebirth.  However, awareness can be raised to transcend this cycle, with proper guidance, and with Grace. On our own, we may seek fulfillment in wealth, in status, in perfecting some art or in relationships, but ultimately we must realize the true nature of these pursuits.  They are not bad - in fact many of these pursuits may aid in our spiritual fulfillment and evolution - but these actions must be performed with proper awareness to prevent attachment and disillusionment.  It is only through a Guru, through the Divine reflection of our own inner guidance, that we find true purpose and true fulfillment.

Volumes have been written and lectures have been orated-- all trying capturing the essence of the Guru-Disciple relationship.  Some of the major lessons are explained and some of the divine subtleties are acknowledged.  However, it is only through experience that one will ever appreciate the true greatness of this relationship.  This is undoubtedly the most unique relationship one will have in their life. It is Divine, it is selfless, it comes from a place of love that transcends the world as we understand it, and holds only the disciple’s spiritual evolution foremost.

A spiritual seeker can benefit from a true Guru more than with any practice or sadhana, more than any prayer or puja in a temple.  For through the Guru’s Grace, great spiritual growth occurs. While on a pilgrimage in the Himalayas, Amma and Swamiji remarked to their disciple:

All that we see outwardly, the mountains, the valleys, the love and the suffering, all of this is a reflection of what is within us.  And yet, the inner world is deeper still, for it includes all which we see and all which is unseen.  Along the path to liberation, the journey into the inner-Self, there are countless pitfalls. There are steeper mountains to climb and more dangerous roads to traverse. These pitfalls come from the two biggest enemies to self-realization, the mind and the ego, and they are constantly present. Just as we need directions to get from where we are, to where we are going in the external world, we too need directions to navigate the inner realm, for it is far more harrowing. Trying to navigate alone can create complete disillusionment within a seeker. However, the presence of a true Guru sheds light on these hazards. The Guru takes on the role of making the disciple see both the outward and inward pitfalls and how to avoid them. That is the true Grace of the Guru. -Swami & Amma

 The relationship with the Guru can take on many different forms. The depth of the relationship will vary for every disciple. The relationship is a very dynamic one, it is ever-changing and yet it is always the same. The presence of the Guru in one's life clears obstacles on the spiritual path. The Guru's Grace is always there upon all the people who are connected with the teacher. It is a bond of love and trust, more than anything else. This is because the hardest lessons to receive are about the self and the hardest places to look are within our own reflections.  Once this trust is established fully, the Guru becomes the mirror and shows the disciple not just who they are, but who they can become - and how to fulfill their highest purposes.

 The teacher illuminates the light that has always existed in one’s own heart.  The Guru is the ultimate reflection of the Self.  Gracefully, the student is shown his self-destructive tendencies and how to transcend them.  For these teachings to be bestowed and accepted fully, they can only be received in one's heart.

                                            

Many of us begin as wanderers in the ocean of life. We seek purpose and fulfillment. We accumulate karmas, which bind us to the cycle of life. Until the karmas are exhausted, our soul endlessly goes through this cycle of life, death and rebirth.  However, awareness can be raised to transcend this cycle, with proper guidance, and with Grace. On our own, we may seek fulfillment in wealth, in status, in perfecting some art or in relationships, but ultimately we must realize the true nature of these pursuits.  They are not bad - in fact many of these pursuits may aid in our spiritual fulfillment and evolution - but these actions must be performed with proper awareness to prevent attachment and disillusionment.  It is only through a Guru, through the Divine reflection of our own inner guidance, that we find true purpose and true fulfillment.