A Secret

Dr Swami Satyamurti Saraswati, Ph.D.

It has been said, concerning the universal law of nature, that 'those who know do not speak, and those who speak do not know'. The same rule can be applied to the guru.

Many people feel that they know their guru, they say things like, 'My guru is happy', 'Guruji is sad, or depressed; gurudev is worried' etc. Many also speak their guru's name in every sentence, and sometimes there is even rivalry among different disciples who feel that their guru loves them more than the others. These are the ways in which disciples impose their own ideas on the guru.

It has always been my experience that the states of mind shown by my guru are just like mirages.

They appear to be real if one is far from them, but at closer range they are clearly seen to be as insubstantial as clouds. To know the guru is to know the way of nature. The Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tse, written some 2,400 years ago, speaks of the tao in such a way that will enable the disciple to understand his guru. Merely substitute guru for tao.

The Tao that can be spoken of is not the absolute Tao. The names that can be given are not the absolute names.

In all of the great esoteric traditions of east and west - hermetic, Pythagorean, kabbalistic, tantric, vedic and yogic - we are constantly reminded of certain observances and restrictions: the yama and niyama of raja yoga for example. These are rules with the specific intention of helping the aspirant to evolve along the spiritual path to enlightenment. The 'should not's' were formulated so that all the internal processes and experiences within the aspirant's mind would not lose their power by being eternalised.

Thus, in many spiritual practices even nowadays, there are rules of secrecy which many people may frown on and disregard as mere dogma and ritual. This is because everyone does not realise the great power of secrecy in regard to spiritual experience. As a common theme in all the great philosophies and spiritual sciences, we can say that the following items were considered most important to be kept secret.

  1. Sadhana: the spiritual practice given by the guru or master.
  2. Mantra: the realised word heard by the guru in higher mental states and given to disciples to enable them to realise their true nature.
  3. Gurus name: which may also be thought of as a mantra, a perfected word, a word of power.

It is particularly in point three that a little clarification may help. Why should the guru's name be kept secret? Let us see.

Pythagoras of Crotona, Appolonious of Tyana, Lord Buddha and many great saints, mystics and sages of both east and west were never referred to by their names. Instead they were always called 'the master', 'lord' or some such appellation. Their disciples did this primarily as a mark of respect, and the custom is still active even today. We speak of our guru as Swamiji, Guruji, or Gurudev. There is, however, a deeper and more scientific reason for this custom.

We can think of everything in the universe as one form or another of energy. One rather interesting scientific definition of the objects in the universe is 'complicated concatenations of interpenetrating electromagnetic fields dancing on a gravitational field of space time curvature'.

There are many types of energy - electrical, magnetic, nuclear, pranic, electromagnetic, solar and moon. There is also energy stored in everything around us. When we use a word, we actually conjure up in the mind the picture of the object, place or person about which we are speaking. There is a fundamental connection between name - form - idea - original concept. For example, if guru is the name, then we mentally see the guru's image, then the idea of the guru as a spiritual teacher. In the creative process the cycle is reversed. First we must have a concept of what is required, then we form an idea, that is given a form and lastly a name. When the name becomes well known, it has the same meaning, but not necessarily the same form to everyone. Thus name, form, idea and original concept are all forms of energy and the connecting link is the human mind.

It is well known that mental energy can be conserved or lost. It can be conserved by practice of concentration, meditation, japa, one - pointedness, positive thinking and so on. It can be lost by laziness, lack of concentration, negative thinking, distractions and the like. Words also have energy and power, and the more a word is used randomly the less power or energy it has for the user. For example, love, hate, like, thank you, sorry and many other words are just part of our language and no longer carry any great meaning because they have lost their power for most people. The guru's name is another example. The more a guru's name is repeated externally, the less power it has for the person who repeats it, because there is externalisation of what, in essence, should be an internal experience. The guru's name should be repeated in the heart not in the mouth - as written in many of the sacred texts. Devotion which is expressed openly is sometimes less powerful than that devotion which is kept purely internal. Because it is natural and normal to express one's love and devotion in demonstrative ways, the highest devotion often appears as neglect, the highest love as hate.

As it says in the Tao Teh Ching:

"The greatest cleverness appears like stupidity, the greatest eloquence seems like stuttering, the highest perfection is like imperfection... Movement overcomes cold, but keeping still overcomes the heat. He who is calm becomes the guide for the universe."

Such a one is my gurudev.