Role of the Guru

Followers of yoga are not religious, but represent the basic purpose of all religions, which religions have failed to teach – at least in the last two centuries, whether it be Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity or Judaism. They have become too great, too organized and too ritualistic. Religion means re-union, not union but re-union. The basic purpose of religion – to unite again – is missing.

The individual soul, atma, is a spark of a high spirit and this individual soul, is lost in worldliness. On account of the mind and the objects of the world people live a life of illusion and hallucination. Their values, ideas, and attitudes to objects are a consequence of a hypnotic process which they are undergoing.

The awareness of the deeper self which is talked about in the church or temple is not a reality. It is something like a man in a dream talking about chocolate or something nice, but what is the use? In order to have a deeper experience, they will have to transcend the intellect. Logic is necessary because it has to run this show which was created. Reason is necessary because people live in a world of reason. However, there is one sphere of existence where reason should not come in; it should be beyond intellect. It can be called innocence or intuition.

In order to have an experience which completely transcends body-consciousness, objective consciousness and the consciousness of time and space, one has to transcend the intellect and the mind. But how to do this? The more one tries to transcend the mind, the more one goes into it. The more one tries to control the mind, the more one is under its control. One cannot transcend the mind by the mind. One will have to transcend the mind without the mind.

Purpose of yoga

Words, ceremonies and rituals are necessary for some time, but for the flight into the unknown they are of no use. Therefore, yoga has come not only as a therapy or a science of relaxation, but it has come as a science for unfolding the deeper self in man. It is precisely for this purpose that yoga was discovered thousands of years ago. Yoga was discovered for the purpose of liberating the mind or the consciousness from the captivity of ignorance.

The guru inside

The role of the guru is that of an igniter. He is the awakener of the true guru that is within. The truth is that the master, the guide, the guru whom one is searching for is within. He is the voice of the atman. The knowledge that one receives from within is the knowledge he whispers. It is difficult to have any communication with that guru, the satguru. Sat means real.

A person cannot communicate with his mind because to do that one needs an object. When one sees, the perception is not taking place in the eyes, but in the mind, and for perception, an object is needed.

If one needs an object or objects in order to know the mind, then one also needs an object to know one’s self. If there are no objects anywhere, how will perception take place? How will the mind be formulated into perception and cognition? The various experiences that one has through the senses are from within. Knowledge is not the nature of the object. No object has the characteristic of knowledge, object is just pure object. Knowledge proceeds from the person, and an object is just a basis.

It is also possible to have knowledge of the object without its presence. It is possible to have an experience without a basis. It is possible to see a flower even if there is no flower, to hear sounds even though there are no sounds produced externally. Knowledge is not the characteristic of an object, but a quality of the person. But still he needs an object to manifest that inherent quality. The same applies to one’s satguru.

Satguru is within everybody, but one still needs an external guide. One should not be unscientific. The external guru is like a detonator.

Need for a guru

If one can see the inner guru, hear his whispers, feel his benediction and the guidance that he gives all the time, an external guru is not needed. How many people in the world can do that? They are guided by the frivolities of their mind and many times they mistake that to be the voice of the guru or the voice of God. The mind presents itself in the form of knowledge and divine ideas, because the mind is a magician. It can assume any form or any shape, and any idea that comes into the mind of an ordinary person is an expression of his mind.

Therefore, it is difficult to rely upon one’s own conclusions, because they are not totally reliable. It is difficult to know whether those conclusions are spiritualised, divinized conclusions or conclusions drawn by the mind, the magician.

The place of the guru therefore is very important in the higher path of yoga. Yoga is divided into two categories: the external, bahiranga, yoga and the internal yoga, antaranga, yoga. Yama, niyama, asana, pranayama are external yoga. Pratyahara, sense withdrawal, dharana, concentration, dhyana, meditation, and samadhi, total absorption, are internal yoga. For external yoga, a teacher who is an expert in the science does definitely help, but for internal yoga, where the depth of the soul has to be awakened, where the deeper forms of emotions are to be released, a guru is necessary.

Devotion is bhakti. By having devotion one is not only expressing external emotion, but also releasing those emotions which were under the captivity of ignorance. This is the necessary path in yoga.

—17 April 1982, Otterburn Hall, Manchester, England