Remembering the Gurus

 

 

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (July 26, 1915 – May 18, 2009)

And I ask for blessings for my teachers, and their teachers, and all those who come before them….

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“Dedication to the guru is dedication to the practice,” so the Ashtangis said during a sangha, referring to their traditional guru system. That brought me memories of my different gurus.

I equate “guru” with spiritual leaders, although today people loosely use the term to mean someone with authority thus one can hear it even in business schools. I had “gurus” in the (distant) past, although we did not call them that way, who taught me submission to authority and obedience, among other things. Except for one who has become like a family to us, my experience with the gurus I had had for 11 years was unpleasant, to say the least.  My usual reaction hence was, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Sure, gurus are just human. In fact Sharon Gannon and David Life in their book Jivamukti Yoga classified gurus into sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic. Rajasic teachers do not want self-disciplined students but instead want followers on whom they depend financially, emotionally, and spiritually; while tamasic teachers manipulate others to enhance their ego-selves. On the other hand, sattvic teachers are interested only in serving the students. But “if you are a student, it won’t matter what kind of teacher you have if your intentions are pure.” (84)

And as I have written before, you may not always have the teacher that you want but the universe will always give you the teacher that you need.

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BG 4.34 Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.

Annotation: A bona fide spiritual master is by nature very kind toward the disciple. Therefore when the student is submissive and is always ready to render service, the reciprocation of knowledge and inquiries becomes perfect.

I met my life coach three years ago. I call him such because he does not want to be called a guru although he is very much like one to me. Back then he was my sounding board about what was to become a burnout a year later or so. And in countless instances he tried to shield me from all sorts of things (and people) that could have aggravated my situation. And yes, he was instrumental in finding that place where I was meant to be…and all he said was “wait.” Indeed, there is so much wisdom in that single word. Today, although we communicate on a need basis, we remain connected.

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As the Indian proverb goes: the devotee’s job is to find the guru, love the guru, and finally leave the guru. (Jivamukti Yoga, 84)

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Today is teacher Jon’s birthday!

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And I ask for blessings for my teachers, and their teachers, and all those who come before them….

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