Faith in Guru

Swami Nityabodhananda Saraswati

There have been volumes written on gurus; oceans of words, but until the disciple actually decides for himself the role the guru plays in his own life, his oceans of knowledge will be of no personal or practical value. He may know a lot through book learning; he may be able to write, to express ideas or to make wonderful speeches, but finally he has to come to the point of acceptance of guru's influence, not only in his day to day life, but permeating throughout his whole being. For a lasting relationship with guru the disciple needs trust; trust in his decisions, in work conditions and the circumstances guru has created for the disciple. This is called faith. But how do you know if you have faith? You do not know just by sitting. Faith is not a static thing - it is a dynamic state. This point or quality of mind is discovered in the light of conditions created by the guru, but impossible for the mind to accept.

A duty beyond space and time

The guru's task is immense. His task is to evolve the disciple and to do this he has to create conditions which will flush out the problems and limitations created by the disciple's ego and imagination. The sadhana given in the beginning by the guru is the easiest part of the disciple's life to accept and perform. This is because the practice of sadhana gives us immense pleasure and peace and the satisfaction that we are doing something to achieve the spiritual goal. Through sadhana we may experience darshan of the Lord in one of his myriad forms, or the fantastic joy of merging with the object of desire; the ecstatic experience of an infinite river of love, flowing throughout the whole being, and the radiant vision of guru - in all directions and dimensions.

We may also have the thrilling experience of raising sexual energy to the brain, and solving the innermost problems based on the eternal triangle of love, hate and jealousy.

When sadhana becomes the only truth and a solution to all the pains and problems of worldly life, at that time, if the guru withdraws sadhana from the disciple, how will he react? Will he think, 'My guru does not want me to have self-realization', or 'My guru is leading me on a path of ignorance', or even, 'My guru doesn't care for me or my spiritual welfare'? Any of these thoughts may drift through the mind because the guru has taken away the disciple's support, his dependence on sadhana. And if the disciple believes in such thoughts, he will have to act and leave the precincts of his guru and go to a cave and continue his sadhana in the beauty and peace of the Himalayas. Then the disciple will know that the quality of his faith is less than he realised.

Awakening the inner light

So, to help establish this quality of faith, one has to decide to trust and believe in guru. It has to be a fixed resolve which will continue for the whole of one's life. It is not necessary to love guru as a friend, husband, wife or as a beautiful object. Although moments may come from time to time where there are experiences of deep love, such a relationship is not the purpose of guru and disciple.

The guru's purpose is to awaken the guru within the disciple. When the awareness of the guru within is developed, he may speak to you in any language but there is perfect understanding. The language may be no more than a silent look but the full meaning, with all its implications is understood. Once this point has been reached; when the disciple is in continuous awareness of guru, only then is he qualified to say 'I do not need a guru because my guru is within me'.

In India there are so many types of gurus - shastra gurus, vidya gurus, krishi gurus, etc., but there is only one type of guru who has no physical existence and that is sat guru, because the sat guru is within the mind of each and every person. To awaken the sat guru, or rather to awaken the awareness of sat guru who is always there, the sadhak will have to surrender himself to a life with a guru who is prepared to give such training. That training is rare because that guru is also rare. Who will spend the time, effort and energy in training someone who, at the first sign of difficulties, at the first sign of wavering faith, will want to leave? The sat guru has to then begin again on another raw disciple. And as he chips away at the disciple's ego, yet again doubts begin to cloud the disciple's mind. With faith, forbearance and patience, the sat guru will begin again and again.

Exposing the guru

There has been much written about the gurus of India in newspapers and periodicals, whose editors are anxious to create waves of stimulating sensations in minds of readers to increase circulation. The general mass of readers enjoy sensational stories of brutal murder, massive corruption, rape, dacoity, etc., and the pseudo-activities of gurus also come under this category of fantastic exposures. The result is a feeling of false virtue and pride in the public. The various publications feed them likewise, to boost sales, which is a normal procedure in any business.

For the 'real truth' from an external or worldly point of view, it is almost impossible to distinguish between a business man and a guru. Both have buildings, bank accounts, cars, people working for them, income, expenditure, etc., and both are so busy with their duties - one to accumulate wealth and the other to enlighten disciples, that they do not bother to explain or improve relations with a critical public.

It is up to the individual to decide for himself whether to believe in guru, to create faith in guru, and to awaken guru bhakti. These qualities can be developed if the person so desires but they can be destroyed also. Like the glass, so clear, beautiful and useful, but with one mistake, it can be broken and impossible to mend. In the same way, when the disciple's intellect grasps negative ideas on guru, he is destroying his own faith, the very basis of his existence as a disciple. The sadhaka should have in his mind one fixed and unchangeable resolve - 'My faith and relationship with guru come first' - everything else comes after that. The sadhak should think, 'I do not believe in criticism of my guru, or the critic of my guru'. And whether the critic is external or within your own mind or intellect, there must be stubborn and rigid adherence to the resolve for your faith to remain.