Amongst the spiritual seekers, especially those finding deep spiritual truth within Vedic spiritual philosophy, the desire to find a true spiritual preceptor usually becomes a necessity. Just as it is extremely difficult to fully imbibe material sciences on our own without a teacher, it is even more difficult to direct oneself alone on the spiritual “yogic” path without one.
But how does one find a truly self-realized and spiritually advanced guru ? Often I get clients coming to me, or others who come to our Vedic center, seeking an “Indian” guru and some say they want to go to India to find one. Since Yoga and its deep philosophy of spiritual self-realization come from India many people in the west have a conception that an Indian guru is the best.
Yet this is a bodily conception and far from the truth. Although there are spiritually advanced Indian spiritual teachers and yogis, there are also others alive today who were born in other countries. Many did study with an Indian guru , in India or in their own countries, but others are students of western born teachers.
Anyone who has experience with the country of India knows that spiritual teachers are hard to find. On every corner you will find all manner of hawkers and sellers of wares, but the real gurus are not easy to locate. Nor do most advertise themselves as such. The many “commercial” gurus found in the media and on posters everywhere are mostly materialistic men with some knowledge of scripture, which they know how to repeat in a manner pleasing to the ears of the people. Westerners are their easiest customers!
The exact meaning of “ guru ” is “heavy”. This is more than a teacher. It is someone who is steeped and “heavy” with spiritual knowledge and spiritual realization. “The self realized soul can impart knowledge” so says the Vedas, so a true guru must exemplify the epitome of a true yogi. A “ guru ” who has not realized the absolute cannot be a preceptor to others. A realized spiritual master is free from worldly desires. Having a worldly-minded guru can only keep his or her disciples equally in worldly material consciousness and thus cannot transmit the spiritual “spark” needed to imbibe transcendental knowledge.
A true guru asks the disciple for submission to living a life in adherence to certain principles of action, as well as refraining from actions that will cause further bondage to material consciousness. Therefore the guru must ask the prospective disciple to follow regulative principles of life that follow precepts of nonviolence. To make real spiritual advancement a prospective candidate must be willing to refrain from such vices as smoking, drinking, gambling, etc. for otherwise there is no possibility of creating a mind and heart fertile enough for the creeper of spiritual love to grow within. At least, a candidate for spiritual life must understand this and begin to give such things up with a view to complete success. The guru asks the struggling soul to submit to the higher laws of the spiritual realm. This means that he himself must understand and live by such laws in his own life. He must also have higher knowledge of the material laws of the universe as well as the spiritual laws that are far above this plane of existence.
So how to find such a magnanimous soul? A true candidate for spiritual life must first prepare themselves by at least some study of yogic spiritual science and begin to live a life that gradually frees them from vice, anger, envy and constant hankering for temporary material circumstances. When a seeker actually develops the sincerity to listen to and submit to the instructions of a real guru , then the spiritual master will appear in their life.
It is said, “one gets the guru that they deserve”. We must make ourselves worthy and deserving of the grace of those very rare souls who are beyond the confines of this world and all its trappings. Only then will the guru within each and every one of our hearts, known as “Chaitya guru “, or the higher self, lead us to the lotus feet of a truly self-realized spiritual teacher.