Gifts from the Guru

Swami Sambuddhananda Saraswati

We always think things should be better than they seem. Are we ever satisfied? We have our beloved family, pleasant quarters and a scooter, but we want a bungalow, a motor car, fashionable clothes and a better job with more money. Then we are given the greatest blessing in life - a guru - yet still we want more.

Now we have the guide for a lifetime or many lifetimes, but still we complain. Why? Because of our desires. So many desires are inside all of us and we expect the guru to satisfy them with one flash of his magic wand. He could well do this, but what real benefits would it bring to our lives? He may give us our heart's desires but are they really what we need to develop our spiritual Self, or to reveal our true Self? If we have no problems in life how can we make our minds stronger and clearer to truly perceive? Through our day to day problems we develop willpower, patience, understanding and compassion. Although that's not to say that the mysteries of life are not revealed through happiness, pleasures and the pure joy of living; they are.

The guru may not give us that fast new car or the inner peace we expect immediately, but he will definitely create situations in life to bring to the fore our best and our worst. He will create whole plays for us with elaborate roles, sparing nothing that is needed to dig out an old samskara or satisfy an inner desire, that even we don't know about. His stage is the world; his props, everything in it; the co-actors, all people on earth and he makes us the stars.

When we imagine there is progress we feel quite elated. but when there are difficulties we start to question the whole process. This too is the guru's 'lila' - his maya and test to see if we can perceive just that. At this time a certain amount of true faith is required. It will be difficult, for our intellect and ego will tell us we are being foolish. So now we have to think like the young sleeping chela, who awoke as he felt his guru cutting his throat. As soon as he perceived his guru's face he closed his eyes again. The guru told him not to be afraid as he was extracting the venom of a poisonous snake that had bitten him. The boy replied that when he saw it was his guru who had the knife in his hand, all fear left him. This reply was one full of faith for the guru's purpose.

The situations in our lives may not appear so dramatic, yet they can still have a devastating effect on body and mind. The guru is the golden key which opens up the Pandora's box in each one of us, letting out all our secrets, fears and weaknesses. These he makes us view like a compulsory movie, with no interval or popcorn, until we begin to understand ourselves, others and the world around us.

The guru will give us good times and bad times as he breaks up the conditioning of our minds. But as we discover our own self-deception, and our understanding grows, we stop using such adjectives as 'good' and 'bad'. All things become experiences, only to be viewed as the film or play that they really are.

The guru will test us, try us, laugh with us and at us, give us knocks and flowers and most of all his love and blessings. Therefore, as we are transported through this 'magical mystery tour', we should look upon all life's situations as gifts from the guru.