Many people speak of inner guru. It is a correct idea. Inner guru is an awareness. When people say, "Oh, we don't need a guru; we all have an inner guru," I answer, "Then you don't need a wife or husband; they are also inside. They are inner wife and inner husband."
Why this hypocrisy that the inner guru is enough? Why can't you say, "Inner husband is there, so I don't need to marry. Inner wife is there, so I don't need to get married."
People who think like that reject the idea of the outer guru and the discipline of the outer guru. The outer guru will discipline you, not your inner guru. It is the outer guru who says, "Sit down for one hour without moving and practise this." Your inner guru will not tell you to do that; instead, you will make your inner guru follow your own mental whims.
There is a need of a guru, as much as there is a need of a bed, food, a shower, children, happiness, prosperity, wife and husband. However, after renunciation there comes a time when one can identify with the external guru in a different manner. After the departure of that external guru, a power comes alive within, and that becomes the internal guru.
For Swami Satyananda, Swami Sivananda was always alive and with him; they could talk. My guru is always alive. If I want, I can talk to him. If he wants, he can speak to me. This is not my mental imagination, for this link is beyond the mind. There is no confusion whether it is my own creation or my guru saying something. In your mind there can be confusion, "Is it my mind saying this, or is the guru speaking?"
For householders the idea of inner guru does not apply. For them it is a wrong concept. The concept of inner guru only applies to renunciates, who have developed a spiritual bond with their guru. Householders have not developed any spiritual bond with the guru, so how can they look for an inner guru?
If you want to wear new clothes, you have to remove the old clothes. You do not put new clothes over the old. Why don't you apply the common principles of life in relation to guru and disciple? Why do you think it is always beyond your approach? That is where everybody makes a mistake.
A guru is a human being and also an aspirant. He may be your guru, yet he is also a disciple. Gurus have to live that dharma too. For householders living in society, the inner guru has no meaning at all; it is only intellectual gymnastics leading nowhere.
The world is a box, where you have everything, not only misery, but also a lot of beauty. Life is full of opportunities. People are caught in a straight vision. They see the doors of opportunity closed and do not want to look for other doors which are opening.
Since creation people have lived life in the same manner. Your ancestors have faced the same problems that future generations will face. You should not think of life as misery, instead connect with the beauty that life has to offer to everyone to be happy. You have a glimpse of the beauty that life has to offer when you are in touch with a guru.
Bhavaaneeshankarau vande shraddhaavishwaasroopinau;
Yaabhyaam vinaa na pashyanti siddhaah svaantasthameeshvaram.
I bow down to Parvati and Shiva,
Who are embodiments of faith and trust.
Without them, even the adept cannot perceive God,
Although He dwells within all alike.
This is the opening sloka of the Ramacharitamanas. It says that without the two qualities of faith and trust even siddhas cannot perceive the divinity within them. Trust and faith are qualities of mind. Trust means knowing that this person is not going to lead me in the wrong direction. Faith means that the journey that I have embarked upon will take me to my destination.
They are not religious qualities or religious behaviour, rather they are strengths and qualities of the mind. You have an intellectual faculty, and in the same manner faith and trust are faculties of the mind. It is the cultivation of these two qualities which helps to build the bridge and connect with the guru.
Sri Swamiji sent me out at the age of eleven, and I returned at the age of twenty-three. For twelve years I did not even see my guru. In those days there were no mobiles, and letters used to take three months to reach anywhere. Making a phone call used to be a Herculean effort: trunk dialling, lightning call, trunk call, write down the number, make enquiries. A letter from India used to go to England, from England to America, and from America to South America. It used to take three months.
In that time of no communication and total isolation, how did I survive? Faith and trust kept me connected. He is my guru and I am his chela. For me there is nothing else in my life.
10 April 2014, Worli, Mumbai, India