Guru is One

Swami Satyananda Saraswati discusses the questions which many disciples have about other gurus and teachers. Recorded in Australia on 13.11.80.

Many disciples are interested in the works of different saints, authors and teachers. As far as yoga is concerned, however, the main thing is spiritual awareness, how to release the energy. Often we are inspired by other great teachers, and there is no harm in this, but according to tradition, guru must be one. You can derive maximum spiritual energy from other sources also, but do not be misled by those teachers who happen to convince your lower mind. When a teacher allows you to live in any way you want, of course you will like him. You will listen to what he has to say, not because it is the truth, but because it is convenient for you.

But do not be guided by superficial philosophies. You must plumb the depths of the teaching. In certain systems you are instructed not to oppose the mind. But this does not mean that you have to be undisciplined. During meditation or japa when the thoughts are swirling through the mind, this is the time not to oppose the mind. But when you are tackling the daily problems of life and the mind compels you to make wrong decisions, then the instructions, 'Do not oppose the mind' no longer apply. At such times, if you go along with your mind, then you will drive your car into the ditch.

Life anywhere, east or west, has to be very disciplined. Whether you are working in a factory, hospital, or telephone exchange, there must be total control over the mental impulses. If you allow the mind to start jumping while working in the telephone exchange, it will be catastrophic.

It is only during moments of introspection, when you are alone with yourself, that you allow the more volatile thoughts of greed, passion, violence and aggression to come into the mind. This does not mean that you should do these things; that would be total anarchy. However, many people interpret the teachings like this and so lead very undisciplined lives. There have been many great teachers in the past such as Buddha, Christ, Krishna, Mohammed, Zoroaster, Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Vivekananda, who have left footprints in the sands of time. We should have total respect and reverence for them because they represent the divinity in human form. Their teachings and deeds still inspire us today.

All these great men who have passed through the experience of divinity have continually taught one and the same thing. There is no conflict between their teachings. If you read the Gita, Ramayana, Bible or Koran, you will find that they have not drifted. However, those professors, psychologists and intellectuals, who teach without having passed through the experience of divinity, have drifted from the main teachings year after year. Sometimes they say one thing and later they say something completely different. There is no uniformity, continuity or permanence in their message.

Continuity is a very important aspect of spiritual life. Although you may have respect for the different masters and spiritual paths, when it comes to your personal sadhana, you must follow one guru and one set of teachings. This is necessary so that the mind, which is dissipated and full of rajas, does not find an excuse to escape the practice. Once you have a guru, you must go by him. If he tells you to practise japa yoga, then continue the practice without changing it. This is the only way to progress in spiritual life.

I will give you a gross example. Once a girl marries, she has a special relationship with her husband which she doesn't have with any of the other boys, and it is much better that she doesn't. But this does not mean that she shouldn't talk to the others. Just as she has a special relationship with her husband, but a normal, workable relationship with everyone else, in the same way, the disciple must have a special relationship with the guru, but normal relationships with everyone else. We should respect all saints, whether Hindu, Christian or Muslim; we should not criticize anyone. But at the same time we should not lose faith in our guru, just because another one seems more attractive.

There is no end to attractive men in the world. There is no end to attractive faiths. From time immemorial, hundreds of thousands of saints have been born on this earthly plane to guide human beings to the spiritual path. That is why today we are still surviving even in this comparatively less spiritual society.