Today let’s look at the issue of how to recognize your Guru, spiritual guide, or spiritual master. The term Guru in the external sense means a teacher or shepherd, and in the internal sense a person who burns or illuminates what is material and heavy, as well as the flame of consciousness hidden in the shell of the material body.
A guru is not ex officio or in any way appointed. You cannot become a Guru by title. One becomes a Spiritual Teacher by title, and the appropriate title is Acharya. Sometimes an Acharya becomes a Guru by choosing someone who is willing to devote himself as a servant, a Chelaka. Discipleship means the path of discipline and obedience. Not every Acharya becomes someone’s Guru, because there are not always people able to offer themselves on a fiery altar. We reserve the term Guru for the spiritual union of adepts who are able to offer their will on the altar of the heart of Acharya who is realised in God, so that they surrender their wishes (Isha) to the will (Ichcha) of the messenger who is able to guide along the path. Among many admirers and sympathizers of the path, teacher or teachings, only a few make an act of renunciation and follow in the Teacher’s footsteps. Only they can be said to constitute the Circle of Disciples (Śishyachakram) or Servants (Chelachakram).
Chelaka literally means 'scapegoat’ – a symbol of the ego sacrificed like a goat, but on the altar of the heart. We place all our lusts, passions, desires and inclinations under the guidance of the Guru’s Ichcha, the Will of the Guide. Only in such a relationship can one say that one has chosen someone as one’s Guru. A śishya is a person who does not in any way disobey any order of his Guru, nor does he have any doubts about Him.
Considering the issue of the relationship between Guru and Śishya, we can say that being in either position is a subjective phenomenon. No one can be said to be a Guru objectively. The people who serve know who their Guru is, and he knows his devoted servants. There is also the issue of whom to choose as your potential Spirit Guide and whom to avoid. A person who is spiritually realized through the enlightening process of realizing God, Brahman, the Supreme Spirit is one who is worth seeking out and taking as one’s Guru for spiritual benefit. We will further consider some of the characteristics of such spirit beings in order to better understand how to look for and guide ourselves should we wish to place ourselves under the gracious Guidance of an individual as a servant.
Features of the Being who is Realized in God
1. He comes into the world fully mature and equipped with all the spiritual perfections that are revealed when childhood ends and adulthood begins. He has all spiritual forces and abilities in full abundance, although he does not always manifest them.
2. A true Spiritual Guide (Guru) is always free from karmic debts, remains untainted, without past, present and future. There is no trace of the small self, egoism or any selfishness in him.
3. He is not attached to anything or anyone. He is able to abandon any activity or involvement when the time comes. He has no interest in the number of his supporters or sympathizers. He is completely free from dogmas, opinions or beliefs, able to act outside and beyond the beaten track.
4. He is far beyond and above all religions, although he neither condemns nor criticizes any of them. He does not favour any particular denomination, not even his own opinion. It has no connections with, or any obligations towards, any sects or religious reformations. At the same time, he remains deeply religious in his everyday life.
5. He leads an exemplary and unsullied life. He shows us how to transcend all limitations, barriers and conditioning patterns. He shines with the light of unity with Brahman, with cosmic consciousness, with the Supreme Spirit, with God.
6. He refuses to have anything in this material world. He remains everywhere as a guest or passer-by. Wherever he is, he treats everything as God’s property, 'not mine’.
7. There are no family connections or attachments in the common sense of the word. He is beyond any family or social connections. He does not belong to a family or any social circle.
8. Everyone can turn to him for help and inspiration, finding in him a true and great Friend. However, aspirants to discipleship will be sharply and severely tested by trials.
9. Kaivalin usually neither speaks nor writes much. This is usually done by His inspired, direct disciples.
10. He never discusses or gets into any disputes, he doesn’t take sides, but he shows what is right and proper for your spiritual development. He remains free from theological, dogmatic and philosophical disputes. In teaching, he only shows the way to those interested.
11. He devotes most of his time and freedom to higher, purely spiritual, constructive and invisible work in this world.
12. He accepts no major gifts, limiting himself to only the few things that his body requires. He does not accept money for his spiritual help and spiritual work. Sometimes he makes his living from teaching the dharma, and sometimes from his own manual labor or craft.
13. He usually does not reveal his spiritual gifts because, having penetrated them long ago, he has no interest in them. He performs miracles when it is useful for the development of students (chela), never to satisfy someone’s curiosity or to gain fame or recognition.
14. He has all spiritual forces (powers and graces) because he is one with the unmanifest Supreme God, who is the source of all powers and miraculous possibilities. Miracles are performed only at the command of God himself.
15. He does not accept ordinary nicknames, temporary titles or other signs of human emotions and dignity. He doesn’t care about signing his name, fame or honor. It is said that he does not actually have any name, although he is usually known by some spiritual name with sweet vibrations.
16. He is completely indifferent to his physical existence. The body is of no importance to the unlimited spiritual consciousness of a true Kaivalin.
17. The Sage knows that everything happens in its proper order, so he does not oppose the inevitable. He does not defy death when the time comes for him to leave. Sometimes it happens that he transforms his body taking it with him as a luminous form of his further existence. He usually announces the time and manner of his departure well in advance.
18. He speaks through silence infinitely more powerfully than any earthly language. Only the Perfect One can teach in Silence and inculcate It in others. The silence and peace he gives comes from the luminous Empyrean, from the sphere of boundless brightness from which flows the stream of consciousness, teaching and power of the Teacher.
19. He has no earthly lord or ruler, not even a teacher. He comes mature and ready to open a new spiritual path for us and does not need any human help. He remains completely independent throughout his life. It is the descent of Heaven to earth. Sometimes he 'learns’ from someone, although for such a short time that others cannot believe that he has managed to learn anything.
20. He has a specific mission (task) to fulfil in this world. He cannot be touched by those around him, even though the world may despise or slander such a person. He lives and works among people, carrying out his work without difficulty, although sometimes others wonder how this is possible. He does his work without any grievance or complaints, completely calmly.
21. The key to finding someone who is a God-realized being lies within ourselves. A spiritually mature person will come to his Master himself, and the Simple, Instant Path will bring immediate (instant) results. Truth is a sign, and a pure heart will recognize the embodiment of Truth. When the disciple is ready, the Master comes.
22. The words he speaks become reality. Prayers and requests are heard and fulfilled. The light and warmth of spiritual love are felt by many people.
23. The basis is God, Brahman, the Creative Principle in whose name the Spiritual Master acts. Both birth and death are accompanied by unusual phenomena. The body does not decompose, sometimes it shrinks or even disappears, dissolving into rainbow light. In the vicinity of such a being, wonderful aromas and a different kind of consciousness sometimes appear.
24. The body usually has certain specific features. The most important thing is the general similarity of the outline of the figure and face to the shape of a typical holy figure of significant size. He looks like Buddha, Krishna or Christ. Another feature is the tendency to sit in the lotus position.
25. Starts his activity early, usually at the age of several or a dozen years. Often, throughout their lives, they retain the appearance of a person who is 16 or 25 years old.
The only difficulty is that we may not know everything, and even that we may only know some things at the time of the Teacher’s death. A sign of the DIVINE REALIZATION OF THE MESSENGER is that after His death, His activity continues to increase through the work of souls devoted and consecrated by Him. Another sign is the continuation of initiatory methods of teaching and transmitting practices. The blessing through the laying on of hands always means the ability to communicate on behalf of God and the entire Spiritual Hierarchy of angels, saints and prophets. An authentic Teacher always leads along the path of initiations and blessings. There is one exception to this, if adepts live together with the Teacher on a daily basis, as it were non-stop, then the method of formal initiations is not necessary. Twelve years of being with the Teacher is a period of effective spiritual education.
Another issue to consider is how to effectively follow the spiritual guidance of even the best Guru for us. Many people start their journey with great and wonderful Teachers, unfortunately they are unable to accept even the basic rules of this journey, and sometimes they simply do not know about them. It is a matter of how to be a Śishya, a disciple on the spiritual path. A common phenomenon in the West is the lack of honour and respect for the chosen Guru, Masters and Saints in general. Although everyone knows the commandment 'do not use the name of the Lord your God in vain’, unfortunately they do not know that it traditionally also applies to all those who represent divinity to us in human form. In the Vedic and also Semitic traditions, everyone knows that the attitude towards the Holy Being reflects the attitude towards the Absolute itself.
“A certain man who worshiped Brahman, the One God, day and night, died and was brought before the Judgment Seat. When the Most High said: you deserve hell, this man began to defend himself. Lord, he said, did I not worship You alone, did I not bow down to You alone, and did I not praise You alone, O Most High? No, God replied, every day I came to you in human form to give you My Blessing. Do you remember that Saint who lived near your home and wanted to take you on as a disciple? It was I Myself in human disguise. You blasphemed me for being an ordinary person like you, you hurled curses at me, you slandered my good name. This is how you deserve hell.”
The moral of this story is that it is better to have consideration and respect for your neighbours, because one of them may turn out to be the Lord himself in the guise of a human being. This is especially true of those whom God has anointed as divine guides for people on earth. And even more so in relation to those who were sent by Him to enlighten the world, as His Messengers (Paghambar). We can imagine what a pitiful end in hell is for those pious ones who worship only the Most High, but despise those whom He has placed in their path as signposts.
However, when looking for someone as a Guru, we must remember that a Spiritual Director cannot be a person with whom we only like to talk as a friend, even if it concerns our deepest spiritual experiences. We can have many teachers, Acharyas, but there can only be one Guru. Only a being who fully realizes God and His Message can be a Spiritual Director in the proper sense of the word. The Saint of God in the full sense of the word is an appropriate person. Our 25 points are intended to give us general guidance for our exploration. If you have serious doubts about even one point, it is better to wait until they are clarified.
Great Acharyas, sometimes even holding entire lines of transmission and spiritual instructions, often suggest that their great and realized predecessor or even the founder of the entire school be taken as Guru, because he was a larger figure and continues to work through the line of succession and blessings, while they themselves, that is, the Tenants, are still developing and working on themselves, although sometimes they are siddhas full of power.
In this way, many advanced yogis, siddhas, aspire to Chohan Śiva, the founder of all forms and varieties of yoga, or to one of the great Masters of the past, such as Śri Śankara, Patanjali, Morya or Vyasa. On the other hand, such a Great Guru will ask you at the appropriate time, just as the Supreme Master and Guru asked his 'devoted servant’ in our earlier parable.
In this way, every aspirant learns his first great lesson in spirituality, which is that Iśvara, the Lord and God within his own heart, is the same as the Guru who appears outside us in human form, as Sadguruji, as Baba – the elder soul. No one will achieve enlightenment unless he finally learns this great lesson.
If you find a suitable person as a Guru, then you need to overcome three basic mistakes that aspiring practitioners often make. The first is the error of selfishness, when one discusses and tries to prove how great such a being is, and at the same time belittles and humiliates all other Messengers. Your Guru is only for you, and if you talk about him, then only in an atmosphere of holiness and reverence. Do not talk about your Guru to people who will not respect the sanctity. Falling into the experience of 'only our path is true and only we will be saved’ is also an example of making such a mistake. The second error is the error of lust, in which adepts, especially those of the opposite sex, develop desires or dreams of an intimate and sexual nature towards the Guru. A relationship with a divine being cannot have such overtones. Falling into this error is the most common cause of illnesses and mental disorders, even for advanced adepts of the path of spiritual development. Agape (Prema) is not sexual love. This error must be avoided even in relation to Gurus who teach in the Tantra system! The third type of error is falling into nihilism, a sense of perdition or, more broadly, catastrophism. Adepts subjected to intense spiritual training, which is always aimed at dissolving the ego (selfhood), sometimes fall into delusions that their own Guru wants to destroy them or that death as soon as possible will only lead to liberation (salvation). The shadow of the egotism produces these kinds of stories and you should never give in to them.
Signs of a False Master
There are also many signs of how to recognize a fraudster who is trying to impersonate God’s messenger. However, perhaps this is not a topic worth developing, because it is better to look for a Guru than to consciously look for a fraudster. All those who have anxiety and fear greatly that they will fall into the hands of a false Master will probably end up there, because their fear and anxiety will always lead them to the wrong person for them. Fear in this direction is also largely developed by various literature criticizing various spiritual movements and schools of teaching. Don’t be afraid, you won’t get it wrong. The most important sign of a false Master is a person preaching catastrophic teachings about inevitable destruction and the imminent end of the world. False Master who preaches, that in a few years, on this day and at this time, the end of the world will take place, is undoubtedly a noisy demon posing as God’s prophet. Vedic scriptures, including Buddhist ones, warn against such impostors. Jesus also warns, however, a surprisingly large number of people go to schools that propagate these deceptive teachings coming from the very bottom of hell, where there is Avichi – the consciousness of eternal destruction and total destruction. The predicters of universal destruction are always false Masters. They are also usually mentally ill, and their catastrophic theses are only part of their delusions.
Another sign of a false path is the absence of any indication of the existence of an initiatory way of transmitting individual teachings and practices. There are many wise philosophers and lecturers who talk wisely and interestingly, even about spiritual issues. If they do not provide initiations or conduct intensive courses of practice in the form of retreats, then it is at most a philosophy that has nothing to do with spiritual development. There are many Pandits (Pandijis) in India who philosophize in the field of Samkhya, but they have no connection with real spiritual teaching.
Another sign of fraud is agitation. If your main task in a school is to win new souls for the movement through agitation or encouragement, or to obtain material resources for the movement, then you are also a happy adept of a false school. The Forger of Destiny duly deceives the adepts and they become almost professional agitators. Guru is not distinguished by the number of agitated members or the amount of entry fee.
The practice of ritual suicide, even for the noblest purpose, even if it occurs in any movement or is taught by any teacher, indicates that we are dealing with a false and bloody hellish cult. The features of false schools are also revealed by systems in which ritual sacrifices are made of animals killed especially for this purpose.
Holy War against other groups and nations also reveals an individual or movement that is blinded by diabolism. The false Master may encourage you to engage in even the most holy war. Unfortunately, he is always what he is: a fraud. Any forced affiliation related to being born into a certain nation or culture is also a sign of degenerate schools. This is a characteristic feature of fundamentalist and nationalist deviations. Education for war and killing the enemy is a sign of the worst distortions that occur under the banner of spirituality and with the name of the Absolute on false lips. The master who forms such teachings is usually a degenerate psychopath or a person suffering from religious paranoia. Let’s hope that all the instructions given here will allow you to better understand the matter of finding your own Guru. Hum!
Many Blessings on your Path to Awakening and Realization!
Om Namaśśivaya! Hum!
Acharyacharya Swami Lalita-Mohan G.K.