The Guru is the word of wisdom coming through a person who has attained the state of consciousness to speak the infinite truth, under all circumstances. To call yourself Guru or Sat Guru is easy. To create publicity and print posters is easy. But to be a Guru is the heaviest possible job a human being can undertake. It is easier to be a God, because then you’ve got all the power of a God. As a Guru, you do not have that power, yet you must direct others to the right consciousness.
You will experience a direct clash with the egos of other people, with hundreds of them, face-to-face. That is the first requirement of a Guru; he must be able to withstand this clash. Secondly, he teaches you how to yoke yourself to your higher consciousness and inspires you to do it. Finally, when you question your path, he is the one person on this planet who must face you selflessly.
The Guru must have the unlimited compassion of a God, yet he must also know how to grind you. If you go on questioning and doubting, he must turn you back toward the positive; if you go on negating, he must reverse the polarity of your thought patterns; if you go on running, he must bring you back to one-pointedness.
There is only one thing about yourself that you need to know: you are a part of infinity. That is what our life here is for, to understand this one thing, not for the sake of knowing it, but for the sake of practicing it. That is all there is to know; you are a part of infinity.
At the time when Gurus were very prevalent in India, Europeans were not considered to be technically great or mentally unique. Most of mankind’s expanded wisdom at that time was concentrated in the area around the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, in countries like Iran, India, Burma, Thailand, and China. The highest focus of spiritual development was a concentrated effort of devotion in Japan. I went to that area and studied it in detail. I went to discover the oldest record of doctors and hospitals. As a result of my search, I came to a surprising conclusion: Mental turmoil did not exist there. Man had a tremendous sense of guidance in his life. I studied the great Greek masters of medicine. I wanted to know if they used tranquilizers to calm people down. There must have been some reason for the mental tranquility of the people of that era. If they were using tranquilizers, it would mean that the Greek mind was not necessarily unique, or steady, or in control.
Nothing should upset you. You are beautiful. You are not ugly at all. What upsets you is your own mind. It is the ugly mind that makes you ugly. But in fact, no human being is ugly. There is no such thing as ugliness. It doesn’t exist. When the mind is behind the thought that you are ugly, it can take you to the lowest level of your consciousness, and under that spell you can get into certain undesirable actions.
I also studied with Tibetan teachers who were the custodians of ancient traditional Indian scriptures, and in remote areas where great Ayurvedic teachings were practiced. I wanted to know if tranquilizers or herbal roots or some kind of medicines were used. If they were used very much, it would mean that men were as crazy then as they are now. But to my surprise, there was no mention of these things. And on the rare occasion that somebody became half-insane, he was sent to learn Hatha yoga. It was surprising to me. Why Hatha yoga? Why should a man who had lost his memory or who had jumping fits and could not obey a righteous direction, be sent to practice Hatha yoga? This motivated me to study Hatha yoga. I found out was that certain people cannot have a direct established relationship with their mind. They do not even know whether they have a mind or not. That was most surprising. Many people do not know that their mental self exists within their physical self. All they think is “I am” and they are very physical in their understanding of their existence.
From the first to the sixteenth century, people were very content mentally. There were hardly any treatments mentioned in the books of these old masters concerning mental problems. So we can conclude that there must have been very proper guidance available to people that gave them righteous insight.
In the life of every individual, two things can happen. One is that you forget your capability due to the circumstances and pressures of the time. If under certain pressures, you cannot remember that stress is momentary, and at that moment you give in to the pressure, that is the start of mental depression.
This existence with its infinite mind is at your command. If all spiritual teachers stopped teaching faith in personalities and started teaching faith in the Self, this world would be heaven.
Suppose I talk a very good truth. I am very clever; I am beloved. People follow me. What does it matter? I will become a train; I will become the engine and all those who follow me will become boxcars. The moment they start rolling on my words, they forget everything. But if every boxcar had its own motor, it could drive itself. From time to time, it could come into a workshop where a head mechanic could just take care of it and then release it. Then it would be perfect.
These Guruships and ashrams in ancient India used to be mental workshops where the minds of people were molded and taught to act righteously under all possible circumstances. For the first twenty-five years of his life, a person in India would study under a Guru’s guidance, away from his parents. When a child turned five years old, the parents would hand him over to a Guru. There he would complete his entire education: the scriptures, how to deal in life, how to defend himself, how to offend, what to do and where to do it. His complete training would be given under one roof. Not that there was only one person teaching, there were actually many people. There was one ashram that had a staff of over one thousand people.
We call this kind of education and situation “Brahmacharya”: it is normally thought to mean celibate. But actually, “Brahm” means “infinite God”: “achar” means “the action”. Brahm-a-char-ya” is a person who learns God-like action, not the one who is celibate. So they used to teach people to be brahmacharya. The people who were to rule in the future and people who were to sweep the grounds were both there together. The children of the poor and the children of the king would study under the same teacher in the same room. There were no discriminations. And a child was told that he was being handed over to a wise man to learn the essence of life, for which he had been born.
In other words, the moment a child was out to study and relate to this planet earth and to the life and condition of the land on which he was born, he was in the hand of an expert, calm, well-seasoned, perfectly beautiful individual. He was given his daily routine and daily guidance.
This guru-disciple relationship was a relationship of total freedom. Any difficulty a person had, he could go and talk it out. These people used to have extreme patience, an unbiased mind, and no prejudice at all. You could talk about anything, and it was totally confidential. A person’s natural social urge to confide in another person was totally catered to, and a relationship of total belonging was established between two individuals at the level of mental freedom and spiritual unity. There is no greater comfort than this. It was a very comfortable state for the mind of a man. A man could say, “All right, I am stuck. Let me go and talk to my guru. Ji, here I am. This is my proposition.”
And the guru, out of the wisdom of his experience, would say, “Under the given circumstances you should do this, because the righteousness is here.” It is a very positive, corrective method.
In Tibet, if a person who had committed a serious crime would admit his mistake and give himself to the monastery and the Lama could undertake to re-polish him, the law of the Tibetan state would not punish him. Not only would they not recognize such a man as a criminal, but they would even respect him. It is said in one of the scriptures that I had translated, that whenever a man goes and seeks abode with the guru, his confession indicates how seriously he has repented. So, if the Guru at that time felt that a criminal could be totally improved, there was no reason for the state to interfere.
In one of the courses at 3HO North, we showed people colors to meditate on. Only two people could see green as green, red as red, yellow as yellow, blue as blue. Everybody came up with a story. And in the end, in summing up the experiment, I asked why they could not see blue as blue? Don’t you understand? It is the greatest gift that the Creator has given to man that blue should always look blue. Somebody had told me that out of the blue they saw the stars coming, and the people coming, and there was a cowherd coming out of that. Can you believe that? And on the red, he saw all of Los Angeles going into the ocean, and fire, and all those stories, you know. I was meant to hear that, that is my job. In the end, they wanted to know how close they were to realizing God. And when I summed it up, I told them the closest to God are those who could see green simply as green, yellow as yellow, blue as blue. I could see the agony in their faces because they had told me all those stories, trying to out-do each other to prove that one was more divine than the other.
And then I gave a practical example: If you see your mother as your wife, what are you going to do? Or if you see your son as your father, what is going to happen? As you project your personality in activity, so you are. No man should forget this. Your projected personality in activity is what you are. Whether you have money or you have no money; whether you are healthy or you are unhealthy; whether you are a good person or you are a bad person; it doesn’t matter at all. But how you act in relation to another person, that is what matters. All scriptures talk about it. When a person can communicate what he means with perfect spirit, his communication is complete, and he can live up to his words. A God-conscious person is not one who wears a turban like me and wears different clothes. That is only a beginning, sort of an introduction to God-consciousness. The God-conscious man is he who can live up to his word under any given circumstance. Your word is what you create, the creativity of your communication, communion. If you say to somebody, “I love you,” then live up to it to the last breath of your life. If you say to somebody, “I will help you,” do it to your utmost. If you tell somebody you will stand by him, stand by.
For four years I studied what went wrong with spiritual teachers. I questioned why these teachers, who are so well known, are unable to help people? They know the Vedas; they know the Puranas; they know the Simrities; they live a very clean life, people believe in them, and they have a discipleship of a hundred thousand people. So what is the matter? Has the faith been lost? Has there been some deterioration among the disciples? Has something gone wrong with the guru? I took these questions upon myself as a project. It took me quite a while because it was a difficult subject to study. But in the end, I had to conclude that when a person comes to know what is wrong with himself, he needs to be faced with his polarity at that moment to totally shake him. His activity should be met with a totally opposite activity, a resistance. Something real should be done to him at that time, and later on he should be told what is right. The explanation must be an order, it should follow logic and reason.
These days, all over the world, people are competing to be an incarnation of God. “A” is the incarnation of God, and “B” is the incarnation of Saturn, and “C” of Mars. I don’t know what this competition is, but a lot of money is being spent to persuade people to recognize certain gurus as incarnations of God. In the old book, it is said that at this time, an incarnation has to take place. So everybody is trying to tell the world that he is the incarnation. That is the problem these days. But these gurus who are on this kind of trip lack compassion.
If a person comes to you with problems, your duty is to listen to him. Then you have to sympathize with him. Then you must measure your own capacity to help through your own meditative power. After that you must talk with him. It is known as spiritual wrestling.
I will give you a specific example. Whenever you go to a real guru, you have to have a workout with him. After a good exercise and relaxation, everything will feel fine. You will be very relaxed. So when you take your mental tension to a man of higher consciousness, you will pull him down, and he will pull you up. It will be a good wrestle. In ten or fifteen minutes, you will give in. Your mind will be totally calm.
Nanak has said it very beautifully. He tells us that God created these dust bins for all of humanity to put in their dirt. The humble of the humble is Nanak who is happy to get the dirt because his Lord God has created him for that purpose. That is why from the very beginning he was known as Sat-Guru Nanak, the Guru of the Truth. He practiced total humility. If a miracle happened and it was attributed to him, he slipped away with a very clear pronouncement: “I am the dust of the feet of those who walk on this planet, praising the Lord God. How can I perform a miracle?”
We must understand. It is very righteous to inspire another being. It is God-consciousness not to sit there very still like a dummy, but to do something to help the other person. But this is what the image has become. This is how we have been brainwashed, but it doesn’t work at all. I will tell you what works: when you go to a person who has universal wisdom, whose mind is expanded within a body, and you talk to him about a problem which is limiting you, it is his honest duty to pick you up and expand you again. It is a yoke. He hooks your personality up with infinity again. That yoke is communion or yoga.
That is what the Guru does. He opens the door to the cage of that problem and makes a man free so that he can fly again on his path. He shows him that he is a part of infinity, that he must relate to infinity, and that these shadows are only temporary. This is the job of the guru. He is a garbage cleaner. In America, we think that man is holy who can create miracles, has disciples, is skinny, closes his eyes all the time, and all kinds of other images that I cannot even relate to. In this country, people have been brainwashed so much that it is taken for granted.
In any situation where you cannot be informal, do you know how tense you are? When a man forgets his informal habits, he forgets life. Have you ever understood it? Have you ever calculated how much energy you waste on formalities? And when these spiritual people are formal, do you understand how little spirit is in them? When you have realized the soul within you, you are very carefree and informal to everyone, without discrimination. A Sadhak is supposed to discriminate because he has to pursue a particular path. But what is his destination? “All my chains have fallen apart; freely I float in the air of life, to king and beggar alike I go, over land and ocean, I do not know.” This is the attitude of those who have felt that height.
Liberation is not going to God’s kingdom from this earth. There is no such kingdom. The kingdom of God is right where you are. And liberation is when you can be carefree and frank; when you are unable to be a hypocrite; when you say what you feel, and you do not demean what you mean. If ten percent of you can remain informal, thank God; you are a very great person. Greatness does not come from giving your money, giving your wife and children away, running into the jungle, and wearing a loin cloth.
God-consciousness is the freedom that you get from getting out of your fear complex. When your fear complex leaves you, you are God. That is why one has to realize the Guruwithin. When you share a problem with your guru, his compassion will fill you up, and it will pull you out of the problem forever. There is no better remedy than the flow of a compassionate word from one human being to another.
So who is a Guru and who is not? This is something each individual has to decide. One Guru will not suit everybody. That’s not the situation. All minds are different. Some are sattva minds, some are rajas minds, some are tamas minds. These are the three kinds of minds.
A true Guru shall cater to all three gunas at the level of each guna. This is something that you must understand. The Guru will come down to all levels and still be a guru. He will fit his activity to your express needs. He will respond. If two cars are running down the freeway at the same speed, side by side, the drivers can exchange some things. They can create a state of communication. But if the Guru is driving at eighty miles per hour in a Ford, and you are driving at fifty in a Volkswagen, who is going to catch whom? Where can any exchange take place? Nowhere. So the Guru has to slow down to fifty miles per hour. If he has no capacity to slow down to fifty miles an hour and still claims to be a guru, then he is a hypocrite. The Guru is the most flexible man. He must cater at every level, because he is a channel through which wisdom flows. He must be accessible everywhere. What flows through him is not his wisdom, it is his responsibility.
You will read in books that the Guru is a guide. That is true, but he is not a director. The Guru guides by suggesting the Truth, but not being attached to it.
You turn to him, and tell him your problems. He will tell you that under the given circumstances, the righteous thing to do is this, but it is up to you to do it or not, because you are also a God-conscious human being. Once somebody came to a guru, and said that he was ashamed. That he had made the same mistake over twenty times, and he didn’t know why he did it. And that guru’s reply was, “If I were you, I would have done the same thing. Look, just try not to do it again.” Later on I discussed his answer with him, and I questioned why he had told him that. He replied that he had to be at his level, otherwise he couldn’t tell him that he was dirty, that he was an idiot. What good would that do? He is already in pain. His very confession shows that he is feeling horrible, and this time he has to be lifted. I thought to myself that it is a good deal. He can do it, whereas the ordinary man might not have that compassion. And the way that fellow was talking opened my heart.
You must understand that if these holy people are put before the court, and they do not want to admit to something, they are not forced to do it. In every country in the world, this is a conventional law. If somebody confides in a holy man, the holy man cannot be made to betray that confidence. Why has this privilege been given? Because human society has realized that people need a person with whom a man may be totally free, in all honesty. It is a natural instinct of a human being.
The Guru is like an ocean where you can totally merge yourself and come out washed clean. The Guru is a store of the technical know-how, where you can go to take up the responsibility of this planet. The Guru is the secret chamber of your inner self where you can confide your greatest secrets and can be guided in the light of righteousness. Those who qualify according to these criteria are the blessed ones who are the real servants of humanity.