Guru is the Guide

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

God is everywhere, but can you experience God everywhere? Can you see God in a tree? Can you see God in a stone? You may say yes, but if I ask you whether you can see God in your enemy, at that point you will say no. If I ask whether you can see God in a person who is maimed and suffering from leprosy, you will say, "Oh, but he is suffering from his karmas." You don't see God in that person.

Not a crutch

The vision and experience of God is not a matter which you can think about intellectually and say, "God is everywhere." People have been saying it for thousands of years and you also think like that, but has it made any difference to you? You still suffer from your hang-ups, anxieties and fears. Therefore, this idea has made no difference to you.

If you think God is everywhere, you should try to experience it. However, somebody has to teach you how to experience the all-pervasive power of God. So far you have not been able to do so under your own steam. It is only a person who has, in one form or another, experienced the nature of God, who can indicate the way. Once you are on the right track, then areas open up where you can feel and experience that godly nature. At that moment the guru simply becomes a catalyst to provide you with the experience. The guru does not go with you until the end of your journey, he puts you on the right track. The guru is only a guide, not a crutch with which to support yourself until the end of your journey.

Mind pattern for God

Therefore, it is not possible to have a direct relationship with God with your present frame and state of mind. You have to change the mind pattern when you go to different places. When you go to a concert your mind pattern changes, when you go to work your mind pattern changes, when you come home your mind pattern is different, and when you go to an ashram your mind pattern is different. Similarly, when you go to God the mind pattern has to be different. It is impossible to go to God with this type of mind pattern for God is not an object you can see with your eyes. God is not a form you can touch with your hands. God is not an idea you can think about with your mind. God is the totality of life, both living and non-living. In order to develop a relationship you need to have that level of awareness, consciousness and understanding.

At present you can't even understand your own nature, your own fears or desires. You don't know how to handle them and you want to experience God. It is a contradiction in every respect. It is not something easy where you can say, "I know God, I have realized God." It is a state of being. You have to go through the process of becoming. The master can help establish that connection provided you are truthful, sincere, innocent and devoted.

printed in YOGA, Vol. 10, Issue 4 (July 1999)