When Guru Passes Away

How do you feel when the guru dies?

How we feel depends on the relationship we have had with him during his lifetime, and on how much we have been able to discover the truth of his teachings inside ourselves.

The guru comes into our lives when there is a real need and a readiness. When we first meet him, we come in contact with a fresh, vital and precious quality which suddenly shows us how small are the boundaries of our usual everyday lives. So we come to him for help and guidance to throw open the door of our lives and remove the boundaries which are limiting us.

It may happen that someone's mind is so simple and his life so pure that the guru may bring him almost at once in touch with his true nature, where he remains for once and for all. But this is a rare occurrence in our day and age.

For most of us, the need which brought us to the guru arose from the contradictions and lack of simplicity in our lives. The guru guides the often imbalanced seeker through the labyrinth of his illusions, in a relationship where there may be a very deep sharing.

He can feel where there is an opening in us, and in that moment of receptivity he can light a spark, he can show us the reality of a timeless eternal energy. He can show us how we have been cut off from it in our daily lives; that it does not go away from us, rather, we go away from it. He can point out to us how we are going away, or merely through our contact with him, we can become more sensitive and alert to this tendency and learn to regain our balance, our openness to the guru becomes our openness to all of life.

In our time of need, life brings us help in the form of the guru; through him we can discover this openness which allows us to experience the grace of life in all things, even when his form dissolves.

But we are not all as straightforward as that! If we are not honest with ourselves during his lifetime; perhaps we try to give the appearance of having learned something which we have not really understood; perhaps we have certain desires which we do not acknowledge, so we can look like more perfect disciples; then when we find ourselves left on our own, the underlying reality of our situation will express itself. Suppressed desires will reappear, an incomplete understanding will have a hollow ring. If we were able to keep our bad habits and tendencies under control only through the continual inspiration of the guru, then they too may resurface if we have no direct access to that inspiration. But if we are honest in our relationship while the guru is alive, and do not pretend to be more than we are; if we take upon ourselves the task of understanding our deep rooted samskaras, desires and tendencies; and if we learn to discover, again and again, the openness and awareness necessary to come in contact with the energy of life, then even when the guru passes away we are still able to feel the precious quality of that energy, and we are still able to learn; we need not fear that we will lose our way. And this way may lead us anywhere. But one thing is sure, that death will come, and it may come at any time. To see this is to feel the urgency for awareness and openness in every moment of life.