As the word Guru suggests – gu means darkness or spiritual ignorance, ru means radiance that dispels spiritual ignorance – therefore the dispeller of spiritual darkness is a Guru.
But how do they, the Guru’s dispel darkness? Well, one cannot rid darkness just by switching on a bulb or by the rise if the sun because darkness is actually the absence of light -Light which brings us clarity. In life we all need clarity in every aspect to be able to see things the way they are. So, seeing everything they way they are is Clarity! The Guru brings clarity or dispels the darkness but not by changing us, asking us to be good, peaceful as that would only be temporary. The Guru brings about clarity in us – If we see things the way are and not the way we think they are, then everything will change. Guru does not brings morality to you, but brings Spirituality to us.
How can we find a Guru?
It is serious business to find a guru, but not an impossible task. Finding and accepting the guidance of a spiritual teacher requires that you be serious about learning, and willing to make that learning a priority. There are many kinds of spiritual teachers. In one sense, there’s something we can learn from everyone, so everyone is our guru. On hearing the word guru, we tend to envision a caricature like image: a bizarre-looking old fellow with a long, stringy beard and flowing robes, meditating on distant, esoteric truths. Or we think of a cosmic con man cashing in on young seekers’ spiritual gullibility. But what really is a guru? What does he know that we don’t? How does he enlighten us?
The guru’s business is to see that no human being suffers in this material world. No one can claim that he is not suffering. That is not possible. There are different types of miseries within the material world, and everyone is suffering from one or many of them. No one can say that he is completely free from suffering. We may then ask why the living entity is suffering. The answer is: out of ignorance. One does not think, “I am committing mistakes and am leading a sinful life; that is why I am suffering.” Therefore the guru’s first business is to rescue his disciple from this ignorance.
One may ask whether the guru is absolutely necessary. The Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures) inform us that he is:
tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet
samit-panih arotriyam brahma-nistha
(Mundaka Upanisad 1.2.12)
In fact The Vedas enjoin us to seek out a guru; actually they say to seek out the guru, not just a guru.
Up until now we discussed the ‘real guru’ and their importance, but now switch over to the present day world. The guru today is like a commodity, finding a guru is not that difficult for they can be selected just like shopping in Walmart and they come in all shapes and sizes! The guru’s are like brands with big marketing departments and huge marketing budgets selling that one break through idea that will change your life forever! These are one’s one should fear and stay away from – for these are the False Guru’s. The Asaram Bapu and Nirmal Baba cases are two of many cases which have over the years shaken the faith of many disciples, caused them grief and left them disgruntled. Any Guru whosoever he/she is, whether Asaram or Vilaasaram can get corrupted! With so much power, money, following and more makes these people think they are God themselves!
And we might wonder why do you need a Guru at all??
There is no ready reckoner to identify a false guru from a real guru, but maybe the below questions which you can ask yourself can help you. If seven or more of the following describes your guru or spiritual teacher, then unfortunately he or she may not be be as enlightened or good for your soul as you would like to believe:
1. States his or her own enlightenment: The wisest masters tend not to state their own enlightenment or perfection for they know that it is both unhelpful to themselves and to their students.
2. Is unable to take criticism: False teachers strongly dislike either personal criticism or criticism of their teaching; they do not take kindly to ordinary unenlightened individuals questioning them.
3. Acts omnipotently with no accountability: Some spiritual communities are run like concentration camps, with guru and his chosen ones acting like Gestapo officers.
4. Focuses on enlightenment itself rather than teaching the path leading to it: It is amazing how much false gurus have to say about enlightenment. They argue their points in the same way that the scholars in the middle ages argued how many angels could sit on the head of a pin.
5. Does not practice what is preached: If a teacher preaches love and forgiveness, then he should act that way, at least most of the time, showing suitable regret for any lapses). If he teaches meditation, he should meditate. If he insists that his followers live in austere conditions, so should he/she.
6. Lives in total opulence: There is nothing wrong with living in luxury or being wealthy. But when that luxury turns to unnecessary opulence using funds that were not explicity donated for that purpose then you are probably dealing with a false guru.
7. Encourages or permits adoration from his followers: Avoid any group that focuses on the “master” themselves rather than the teachings or spiritual practices.
8. Runs expensive miracle workshops and courses: You are unlikely to reach enlightenment after a few weekend workshops with cheesy titles.
9. Takes sexual advantage of his or her followers: This happens much more than many believe. It is not being prudish to include this one because when a follower falls under the spell of a guru he or she is likely to do anything for the Chosen One.
10. Overly relies on slick presentation: Slick presentation can often mask poor content, and so it is important for you to look past the lovely music and video shows at the actual message.
11. Allows his followers to set up a hierarchy of access: A guru must be accessible. If he is not, or if he allows his followers to block your access, then he is playing the role of a king and not a spiritual guide.
12. Presents themselves as non-profit whilst raking in the millions: Often, the false prophet will present her teachings for free, whilst strongly encouraging her devotees to make large donations.
13. Acts like a complete paranoid mad person: If your Precious One acts like a complete paranoid schizophrenic or psychotic then he or she probably is. Run!
Hope this helps and always remember that if Eklavya could make a stone/clay idol his Guru and achieve a level even greater than that of Arjun, then why can’t any one of us?
in absence of a Guru in your life let The Bhagwad Gita be your guru and live by it!! ...
*Credit – ISKCON teachings!