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Guru/Master Teacher Questions Answered … What is a Yoga Guru/Master Teacher?

Written By:
Ananda Prema Shakti (Felicia Case)
© EarthStar Publishing, Inc.

Guru – “One whose presence and illumination never leaves their student.”

What is a guru? Perhaps it is easier to say what a guru is NOT.

– A guru is not just a teacher of Yoga asana.
– A guru is not necessarily Holy.
– A guru is not necessarily always pure in thought and deed.
– A guru is not always nice and mannerly.
– A guru is not a particular gender (both men and women can be Gurus)

The word “guru” means “dispeller of darkness,” and like a raging nova of Light, our darkness is indeed dispelled through the onslaught of a PRESSURE front that comes in the form of TRUTH. Truth is the ultimate LIGHT.

Here are some things a guru IS and sometimes DOES:  Note: The guru/student relationship varies in style and not all may apply. This article is simply to give a glimpse into the possibilities.

– A guru tells you your truth. (That means, calls you down on everything from your piety, self deception, and excuses like “I was abused as a child” or “I’ve been depressed all my life”).
_ A guru immediately points out to you that your immediate reaction will be, and is, usually to DENY the truth.
– A guru can play a part in desensitizing you to your wounds.
– A guru may sometimes insults, calls you down, rejects you, and even humiliates you in order to get you humble.
– A guru comforts you in grief and sorrow.
– A guru prays for you, and (a little known fact) is spiritually bound to try and help manifest for you (if asked, and often even if not asked) whatever your heart purely yearns for.
– A guru alternates between “attracting” and “repelling” between dark and light to to help balance ego and to remind you that the guru is a spiritual being in a physical body, too.
– A guru may mirror your opposite.  If you are too pious and self righteous the Guru may seem mean as a snake and will show unattractive qualities. If you are too sensual, or power hungry, the Guru may seem unattainable and Holy.
– A guru helps turns a student into a teacher, an apprentice into a master, and teaches you that in order to be a master, one must be a forever student.
– A guru remains for life.
– A guru may assign to you a yogic a spiritual name which is a life-home work assignment of sorts.  You may also ask your teacher to assign you a name.  If your spiritual name given is ‘Satyananda’ that means “The bliss of truth.”  Therefore, you must live and speak and be the truth with a type of happiness at all times, and that would mean for your own self, and for all of humanity. Often the assignment name is something a person has struggled with in life (such as telling the truth or being depressed).
– A guru loves you unconditionally and gives tough love when needed, even though it might not seem like it at the time.
– A guru can sometimes be irritating and disappoint you.  They may be living in such a way that you don’t approve of, and may even be completely opposite to your beliefs of what is morally right. (This keeps you from forgetting that the guru is a spiritual being in PHYSICAL BODY with temperaments and flaws just like everyone else, and thus forces you to learn to love unconditionally and forgive.)

How can we tell a false guru from a real one? … This one can be a little difficult. There are many who claim to be gurus, — still, here are some tried and true signs:

– With some types, you may feel very uncomfortable (at least initially) in the presence of a guru. (This is often due to the threat you sense of being “seen” and “known” and because you sense that your truth and junk is about to get exposed ..)
– You may feel an unusual, almost telepathic type of connection to the guru.
– The guru will not be in it for the money (and if any money is accepted, it is usually in honorarium or a small fee for workshops)
– – You will feel a type of spiritual juice and energy that you just don’t feel from other teachers when in the presence of a guru.
– You may notice something different about the guru’s gaze, the strength and color of their eyes, and even the pallor of their skin (which varies day to day).
– A guru will not call out and refer to themselves as a guru. If they do, they probably aren’t.
– A guru has themselves experienced what they teach, and they carry the spiritual energy and fruits of practice.
– You will feel as if the guru/master teacher is only focused on, and is only teaching YOU, even while in a large class.
– You will feel that spiritual happenings are occurring that cannot be logically explained.
– You may smell a certain scent, like a flower, or pick up images about a guru.
– The guru will not demand sexual favors (though sometimes an attraction happens and like any other human being, they may try and act on it).
– Sometimes a guru marries a Chela, (spiritual student) though this isn’t common. If a guru is legitimate, even after a relationship ends, the guru continues to maintain the thread, even if the Chela marries another.
– You will feel that the guru is ‘related’ to you, like a mother, or father, or brother, sister, uncle, aunt, spouse, soul mate.
– The legitimacy of the guru is proven over a long period of time (at least five (5) years.) At some point in time, if the guru is legitimate, it cannot be denied.

Can you have more than one guru, one teacher? … Well yes and no, — once you study the teachings of one guru, you can follow a thread to be led to study the teachings of another.  Sometimes you might come upon teachings by a guru who has crossed over.  For instance, in the old archives of Yoga Magazine, from India in the 70’s there are deep articles written by Swami Satyananda,  a direct student of Swami Sivanananda.  Still, it is best to stick with one teacher and over time, be led to study the teachings of others.

Should you talk a lot about ‘your guru’ if you believe you have one?  … It is best NOT to walk around saying “My Guru this, my Guru that.”  This is ego, and appears to be like bragging to others.  There is a phase of time (for some, even a lifetime) wherein students put their master teacher/guru up on a pedestal.  This is a complex psychological process that often happens because the student’s ego struggling with self esteem needs to elevate their teacher to a saintly otherworldly, supernatural status so the student can then feel entitled and more special, or talented and promising than others. It is true that this phase is likely necessary and natural, and even helpful to experience for a bit, on the journey.  Yes, a master teacher/guru may indeed have otherworldly and supernatural heightened energy (and the student can/will too after years of practice and discipline).   But, over time the student will begin to get to know the teacher better and start seeing how the master teacher has life problems too.  When the guru/teacher is humanized in the eyes of such a student, they might fall off the pedestal in the student;s eyes; then the student may become disillusioned and abandon their practice for a while, or for good.  This is an indication that their reasons for practicing had more to do with their rich imagination and the need to feel special and entitled by elevating their teacher to omnipotence, rather than their devotion to the art, and their practice.  Note: This is an important learning experience FOR THE GURU/TEACHER too in that their ego must not succumb, get attached to, and seek the elevation and adoration of the students.  So if someone is saying “their guru told them this, or that, or helped them” and the words “my teacher, my guru” comes up often, it looks like set-apart entitlement and unequality. This is the very type of attitude Yoga seeks to obliterate, so similar to someone saying they are a guru, it is not good to walk around saying “My guru.”

Can you go and ‘find’ a guru? … not usually. Yes, sometimes students travel and go to where a guru might be and a seemingly chance meeting occurs, however this is not the norm.  A guru, (and there are many kinds known by different names in different types of study and on different paths, not just Yoga) usually appears at key times in life, oftenwhen you are at a low ebb and have lost a lot of ego …. When you have hit rock bottom… When you are feeling silly or bored stiff and giving up… When you no longer feel special … When you no longer feel materially driven …. When life as you knew it is over … When nothing really works anymore and you think it might never will …. When you feel that you’ve ‘woken up’ into a new life within a lifetime and could see yourself one day living in a tiny cabin in the forest …..

“When the student is ready the guru/master teacher appears.”

Yet, actually it is taught in ancient sutras that our MOTHER and/or grandmother is our first guru. So we all have a guru.  If we are estranged with our mother, it is imperative that this estrangement be peacefully reconciled.  We may not be ready to have a Yogic guru if we do not value the lessons our own mothers have brought into our journey in this life.  (Read above the list of what a guru is and sometimes does, and we will remarkably recognize our mother. Some of our mothers were very Light-Love based, and some more were representative of the darker aspects of life.)

There is always sacrifice involved in living a spiritual lifestyle and in learning. Veils lift and the reality of the life experience is sometimes starkly painful. It is lonely because most people you love won’t like the notion of there being a cool teacher/guru in your life, and they probably will even detest the guru in many ways (because folks are uncomfortable in the presence of an authentic guru, and because they sense the bond between you – which can even exceed that of husband and wife, mother and child). Such a bond disturbs the norms of life and fights with traditional values of many religious systems. Some may feel envious, competitive, and resentful.

And this is the ultimate test … Do you honor truth and be loyal to the teacher(s) of your life?

~~OM~~To Thine Own Self Be True.

Ancient song to guru

gurur-brahmaa gurur-vishnur
gurur-devo maheshwarah.
guru-saakshaat param brahma
tasmai shree guruve namah.
Agyaan timiraan-dhasyagya
anaanjana shalaakayaa.
Chakshuru-meelitam yena
tas-mai shree gurave namah.
Nityam shud-dham niraabhaasam
niraakaaram niranjanam.
Nitya bodham chidaa nandam
Gurum brahma namaa-mya-ham.
Dhyaan moolam gurur-moortihi
poojaa moolam guroh padam.
Mantra moolam guror-vaakyam
moksha moolam guroh kripaa. (3x)

~OM~ Shanti Shanti, Shanti-hi


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