Guru is like a Touchstone

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Does a guru have greater power than the disciple?

Everyone has power within. I have it in me and you have it in you. But it is important that one works out one’s karma. Without this, evolution is not complete. If it were possible for a guru to evolve disciples without them working out their karma, then every guru would have done that with everyone they came across.

If you take a matchstick and ignite it near petrol, it goes off. But if you ignite a matchstick near a gallon of water, will it also ignite? The match cannot explode water. It can take time to burn a candle, but it takes no time to explode gas. So if you want an explosion, the water has to be transformed. If the matches cannot explode water, it is not the fault of the matches. Similarly, many times gurus fail with watery disciples. Every disciple should try to transform their worldly nature into a spiritual nature. The body can live in the world, but the mind must soar high. Along with the mind, the emotions must also be sublimated. That is how the soul is transformed immediately in the form of the guru. The guru is like a touchstone, which can turn metal into gold. But then, you have to be metal if you want to be transformed by the philosopher’s stone.

Spain, May 1980

Is any guru good for anybody?

The guru is predestined, so not just anybody can be your guru. But in the beginning you need a teacher, a teacher of hatha yoga, pranayama, spirituality and morality. You will have as many teachers as you need, but you will have only one guru who is destined to be your guru. The relationship between a student and teacher is academic, but the relationship between guru and disciple is spiritual. Therefore, one should prepare oneself and wait. Just as you prepare the soil in your garden, prepare the soil of your heart and mind with the help of different teachers and experts. When the soil is ready, you sow the seed. In the same way, first the heart and mind must be rendered ready.

Guru is both external and internal, just as your child is both external and internal – inside your heart and outside as well. The heart is the place where the guru can be installed. It is not important to prepare yourself for an external guru, because even if you get a very good guru externally, a spiritually illuminated guru, a highly evolved person, if your heart is not ready, you will not recognize him. There would be no question of keeping him in you; he will reject you.

When you are preparing your inner instrument, you learn from many teachers. You learn from anyone who knows the science, but he cannot be your guru. It is difficult to get a guru. It is difficult to be a disciple. Both are difficult projects. Many people would like to be disciples, many would like to have a good guru. If you go to a water pool with a one-litre container, you will get just one litre of water. If you have a two- or three-litre container, you will get that much water. In the same way, there should be total preparation. The heart is the author, devotion the flower, total faith in guru the cushion on which the guru will sit, and inner purity the guru. That is how one has to prepare oneself as a disciple.

Everybody cannot be a guru just as everybody cannot be a disciple. Most of us are devotees, followers and admirers. There are very few disciples and even fewer gurus.

Spain, September 1980

How can I become your medium?

The reply is very simple – empty yourself. A flute is the best and simplest of musical instruments. Every musical instrument has two parts, but the flute has none. Nothing has to be added to it. The bamboo must be made hollow, only then can each note be produced. In the life of a disciple the most important thing is to empty oneself. You have your own desires, choices and difficulties. You are not empty. Your problems are your problems and my problems are my problems. Where there is duality, there is no medium.

A disciple need not be an idiot. He can be very intelligent or very funny, but before the guru he is nothing. To become a good medium, you have to become a good conductor. Electricity cannot be conducted through string; it can only be conducted through a good conductor like copper. The guru can flow through a disciple only if the disciple is a good conductor.

You must have heard many stories of disciples who attempted to become mediums, but failed. Many of Swami Sivananda’s disciples are outstanding and very good people. I am not so good, I have my own way of thinking and living. Still, I became a medium because I completely surrendered to guru. There came a point in my spiritual life when I was completely exhausted, tired and fed up with myself.

You try to control your mind and your passions for years and you are not able to do it. All your personal efforts have failed, and you are fed up with yourself. At that time you completely lay down your arms – “Do what you like. I have tried my best and I have lost. I can’t do anything without you.” Then there is an awakening, which only comes when you have totally laid down your arms.

Many people say, “I am a good person. I am a pure person. I am a brave person. I speak the truth at all times. I eat only once a day.” It is all ego. Your goodness can be a product of your own ego. You have to be humble – “I can do nothing; I can’t renounce; I can’t control the mind. My mind is full of terrible thoughts; I have bad habits; I can do nothing!” This is humility, where you accept yourself.

A disciple of a guru or a devotee of God has to be as humble as a blade of grass, and they should not boast of their qualities. They must devote at least two hours a day to meditation. Ten minutes of meditation is just to begin with. In ten minutes nothing happens. It takes at least fifteen minutes for the disturbances of the body to settle down. It takes almost half an hour for the brain to settle down. For another half an hour you have to fight with the mind, and after one and a half hours the mind will sleep. If you put water in the fridge, it takes time for it to become ice. If the mind is to be transformed into a peaceful mind, it has to go through steps. When you meditate for two hours, you become empty of all thoughts, of duality. Duality is, “I am meditating on that.” When the idea of the meditator and the object of meditation is forgotten, that is called dhyana (meditation).

In meditation there is a threefold process – the meditator, the object of meditation and the process of meditation. All the time you are meditating, you are aware of these three things. This must drop, which means you become empty. Don’t be afraid of becoming empty, because when you become empty, energy flows through you.

It can flow through your mind, your intuition, your speech, your palms, your eyes. You don’t know what is going on. There are some people who can see, you look at them and everything is finished. When Mahatma Gandhi looked into a person’s eyes, they were under his control. Then there are people who bless or touch your forehead and you start jumping. In some, the energy flows through the fingers, in others through speech. When they speak, everybody is hypnotized. Somebody’s energy flows through intuition and they have perfect judgement.

When you become the medium of your guru, it is not your choice what you become. His wish will be done through you. So, to begin with, drop your choices – I want this or I want that. That is the beginning of discipleship. This relationship is only with the guru, not with anybody else. With other people you should behave just like a normal person. Only before guru you are nothing.

Spain, 1983