Guru as Doctor

Dr Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati, MBBS

The guru is the best doctor there is, for he heals not only the physical body, but also the mind and soul. The word doctor comes from the Latin docere which means 'to teach'. Thus both the doctor and the guru have a responsibility to teach others, but they are worlds apart in their methods and ways. The guru teaches the disciple about himself, and in this respect he is more of a doctor than many of today's medical doctors who are unaware of the teaching role inherent in any true healing.

The guru is truly a miraculous doctor to be able to diagnose the problems of his disciples and to know the exact medicine that will help each one to progress along the path of spiritual realisation. The true guru, sadguru, knows each disciple's physical, mental, emotional and spiritual limitations and imbalances. Thus he administers to the needs rather than to the desires of each. The sadguru corrects, directs and moulds the disciple from within. He is like the current that turns on the light globe. This inner direction spiritualizes the whole psycho-physiological organism of the disciple, making him a fit vehicle for the awakened kundalini to pass through.

The guru sees directly into the depths of our being and cures dis-ease, which results from tension at the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual level. Guru often sees disease in terms of milestones to peace and perfection. Diseases have their origin in the inner cravings of the soul, not in the mind or body. When the cravings of the soul are satisfied and fulfilled, one is in good health. But when neglected these manifest in the form of agony, frustration and disease. However, all disease is transitory. It merely expresses longing to transcend the lower nature of ego and disharmony, and reach the highest manifestations of dynamism, grace, power and peace. Thus the guru who sees the innermost nature of his disciples gives them the necessary tasks which will help them to develop and fulfil their spiritual potential.

The body is subject to influences from without and within. It is a tool of the self, which uses the sensory apparatus to function in the world of limitations and sensory experience. Mind and body react to the dimensions of time and space according to the moment to moment experiences, building up patterns in the cells of the brain. These either reinforce or modify the hereditary forces, or modify newly assimilated experiences. From this our bodies form. By the time we reach adulthood many of our reactions are firmly fixed and less flexible than they were in childhood. The more we carry out a routine, the more firmly fixed it becomes in our neuronal circuitry. Thus we form the habits of our daily lives.

These habits result in good or bad health, depending on the type of life we lead. If we do not maintain an open and receptive mind, the patterns can cement and fuse into a concrete mass which becomes harder to modify as we age. The guru sees these patterns in our nature and breaks them down for us. When these mental crystals are removed, he prevents more from forming. This keeps the disciple's mind open, fresh and receptive to life.

Every one of our experiences, actions, thoughts and feelings is recorded in neuronal patterns. It is no wonder then that it takes twelve years to purify the mind. The patterns of learned behaviour affect our lives and cause us a great deal of suffering. Some are more strongly formed than others and we base our whole life on them. We are only conscious of a small proportion of these patterns; about nine tenths of the brain lies dormant, unconscious, but it is still functioning. From these areas, feelings and thoughts over which we have no control arise and dominate our lives. We are slaves to our minds and bodies rather than being the master. An electric current moves through our circuit pulling us one way and then the other, from feeling to feeling, from thought to thought. Thus we react to the world in a preselected and unchanging manner.

The guru is a catalyst for the transformation of mind. Contact with a mind as strong and vast as that of the guru is like turning towards the sun. The light which emanates from his mind is of such intensity that it pulls the mind of the disciple ever upwards. This frees the deep-seated karmas and samskaras which float to the surface of consciousness and can be eliminated from there like so much debris. This process of purification leaves the mind pure and clean, better able to reflect the environment and handle every situation well. Diseases such as schizophrenia, depression, psychosis, neurosis, and anxiety can all be cured and any tendency towards them removed.

Prana is the force or energy which is the basis of all life and the whole cosmos. When one attains cosmic consciousness, cosmic prana or the kundalini shakti awakens in him. Thus the sadguru has immeasurable force at his disposal. The disciple, on the other hand, is limited. He is like a two volt battery coming into the energy field of the sun. But through the guru his level of consciousness is raised, and an increased pranic force pervades his whole being.

When the normal consciousness comes into contact or forms a relationship with a higher consciousness, awareness is expanded by the increase of energy. Old limitations, karmas and samskaras are thrown off as new realms are experienced. Then the disciple starts to travel into the world of chakras and nadis. Under the watchful eye of the guru, the disciple moves upward through each chakra, balancing and rebalancing the pranic flows in his nadis. Thus the disciple begins to awaken to the spiritual reality within him, and to realise that he is more than skin, bones and thought. He goes beyond the play of senses and mind, and death no longer has any fear for him.

The guru directs the gradual breaking down of these patterns no matter how long it takes, or how painful the process might be. He gives yoga practices to suit the individual's needs in terms of relaxation and quickening this process. The tensions at different levels are reactions of the lower self when it is threatened with change, which it interprets as destruction. Mental tensions sustain our attitudes and prevent the old from giving way to the new. The only way out of this is to make a conscious effort to change, to strengthen the mind and body so that we can handle all the problems of life as though they were many little children that we have to look after.

With patient effort under the direct guidance of the guru, the grooves and sharp spikes in the brain and mind are worked away and worn down. When the rough edges are smoothed out, the mind becomes calm and peaceful. New areas of awareness open up for us, and through the strength gained, disease becomes a thing of the past. At times during this process the disciple may eliminate poisons from his body through diarrhoea, colds, boils etc. However, the guru is always there to set the pace so that there is no danger.

At all stages of development the guidance of the guru helps us to find the quickest, easiest solution to dilemmas, problems, anxieties and neuroses. One need only look within for the answer or to ask for help. Under his guidance, neuronal patterns that are destructive to the self and others can be changed into spiritual patterns. This brings the body and its different functions into balance, removing disease and improving the total health of the disciple.

The guru is the ultimate psychiatrist. He can heal the mind, a feat not matched by today's scientific world, despite the many new discoveries in these fields. Psychiatry still lacks the knowledge of what the mind really is. The guru not only knows the mind, but he has transcended it in the process of enlightenment. Through that he knows the minds of all his disciples.

Through the guru-disciple relationship the disciple finally realises that he is not the doer, and that his psychic journey has been controlled by the 'doctor', his guru. Then the disciple surrenders to the guru with full faith in him, and true healing on the spiritual plane commences to become a conscious process. Spiritual healing depends on two things. One is the power of the guru, and the other is the disciple's faith. Faith opens the disciple so the guru's power can flood into him.

"The relationship between faith and healing power is reciprocal. Faith is the capacity to receive. The power of the spirit is the capacity to communicate, put out and give from the accumulated fruits of inner experience that have matured in the stillness of a composed and devoted mind. Healing power and faith are like the positive and negative poles of the same force. Where the former exists the latter will be aroused as a natural concomitant."

Lama Anagarika Govinda

Through the guru-disciple relationship forces come into being which generate total wholeness and understanding of the self as well as mental and physical health. As the disciple grows in this relationship, he becomes aware of all levels of existence and transcends his limitations. He becomes one with the universe and moves into the realms of cosmic consciousness where the healing power of truth becomes a concrete reality and manifestation of his gurudeva.