Relationship with Guru and God

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

I have often heard it said that the relationship between man and God is that of a master and servant. Could you relate this to the guru-disciple relationship?

No, I cannot. It is possible for us to create an intimate link and relationship with the guru. When the guru is here, we can interact with him on physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels. Guru is a reality, not a concept, but God is initially a concept. We cannot interact with God physically, emotionally, intellectually or spiritually as there is no direction or cohesiveness in our perception, vision and ideas. There is no stability. If we become unstable in front of the guru, guru can give us a whack and say, "Look, get your act together." However, it takes a long time for God to do that, and when he does it, it is too hard on us, because we do not know how God is functioning and how he is teaching us.

Master and servant

The bhaktas have always maintained that in order to experience God-consciousness it is necessary to develop a relationship with God which is based on purity of feeling and emotion, clear understanding and not a confused rationality. To come to this point we have to deal with our egos, and our fluctuating and flirting thoughts and desires. How do we know that our desires and thoughts are fluctuating? We are not in a position to know that for once we are under the force of a thought it carries us away without any process of discrimination. Often we know that what we are doing is wrong, but we cannot stop ourselves.

The easiest way to relate with God is the master-servant relationship, where our own egos are not manifesting, rather the will of God is manifesting. Our philosophy in life becomes, ‘Let thy will be done'. The complete experience of this concept is the culmination of the servant-master relationship. It is one of the most beautiful relationships. I know I do not have to worry or think about what to do next. I am being guided and instructed.

Faith, conviction and belief are there. There is no imposition of personal ideas or ego. Therefore, the bhaktas have maintained that the master-servant relationship is one of the purest relationships with God that one can have.

This is the difference between the guru-disciple relationship and the God and devotee relationship. In the guru-disciple relationship, the same kind of understanding eventually evolves, but after going through a process of transformation which is physical, emotional, rational, psychic, pranic and spiritual.

1995, Mangrove Mountain, Australia