I WANT TO DISCUSS A MOST CONTROVERSIAL SUBJECT: the nature and need for a spiritual teacher or Guru. We do not understand how to be students or how to think of a genuine teacher. Subconsciously, as a culture, we are rebels and fear authority. For our own growth and success it is important to consciously discuss the Guru, why you need it, what it does for you, and when you need it.
Let us begin with a clear definition. The "Guru" is the word of wisdom coming through a person who has attained the state of consciousness where he or she can speak the Infinite Truth under all circumstances. Attaining this state is a difficult qualification and cannot be compromised.
THE IMPACT OF SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE
To investigate the need and impact of the spiritual guidance of the Guru, I surveyed the great cultures of the past. I journeyed to those areas and studied the ancient cultures and their technologies in detail. I found the old, old records of doctors and the hospitals where people were treated.
As a result of my search, I came to a surprising conclusion. The mental turmoil that we suffer under now was not in existence then. People had a tremendous sense of guidance in life. They took life in stride. Once I discovered this, I studied the great Greek masters of medicine. I wanted to know one thing: Did they use some type of drug or tranquilizer to calm people down? What was the reason for the high level of mental tranquility people had at that time? If they used tranquilizers, then there was nothing necessarily unique to the training or structure of the Greek mind that created such steadiness and sense of control. They did use herbs and potions to treat ailments, but there was no secret or widespread use of any drug to control or tranquilize the mind. The tranquility and excellence of the psyche of that time was due to something else.
In the life of each individual, two things can happen. One is that circumstances and pressures of the time make you forget that you have capability and resources. The second thing is that under certain pressures, you forget that the stress and pressure are momentary, and you give in to pressure. That is the start of mental depression and the inability to cope with life.
FAITH IN THE SELF
If all the spiritual teachers started to teach faith in the Self and stopped teaching faith in a personality, this world would be Heaven. This existence with its infinite mind is at your command. You need guidance and training to experience and manifest this command.
Many people who are known as Gurus or spiritual teachers do you a disservice. Suppose I am Teacher "A." I speak a very good truth. I am very clever. I am beloved. I am entertaining. I am personal. People love to follow me. What good will it do if you are only attached to the personality and energy of Mr. "A"? His following will become a train. Mr. "A" is the engine and all those who follow become the railcars. The moment they start rolling on his words, they forget everything else. They are secure and satisfied. But if he loses steam or derails, then all is lost. Imagine instead that every railcar has its own motor, can drive itself. It can stay on track and reach the destination. From time to time, it comes to a workshop where a head mechanic can just take care of it, tune it up, and let it go on. That is a perfect system.
VICTORY OF THE MIND
The ashrams and Gurus in ancient India used to be mental workshops. They taught and molded the minds of people to be clear, strong, and to act righteously under all circumstances.
There is a system of education and guidance called brahmacharya, often translated as "celibate." There is a more accurate interpretation. Brahm means "Infinite God." Achar means "the action." Brahmacharya is a person who learns God-like action, not "the one who is celibate." People were taught about life, the intellect, and the Self. People were trained to be brahmacharya.
This process of guidance and training by the Guru was so effective, that it could redirect and rebuild people who were very dysfunctional. In Tibet, if a person who had committed a serious crime would admit his mistake and surrender himself to the monastery of the Lama, the law of the Tibetan state would not punish him. The Lamas would undertake a project to correct and polish him. They did not recognize such a man as a criminal. They would respect him. The criminal became a student who had to learn about life, his Self, and proper actions.
Compare that ancient method of guidance to the modern approach of punishment. We have lost the guidance of the Guru and the knowledge of how to train and reset the mind. If the mind does not change, the behavior will stay fixed. The punishment we give people for their crimes, does not punish them at all. Through punishment, we achieve no goal and no improvement. Punishment is just an effective method to create fear. We create the fear that if you steal, you will go to jail. Those warnings rarely stop the criminals.
The mind must be able to know what it perceives and not confuse what it sees with its own subconscious projections. A huge amount of pain in human life comes from treating something not as it really is, but as you project it. This projection creates confusion and delusion. You project yourself and create a role, with its commitments, when you speak and give your word. Your mind must be taught to listen to your word, to see clearly what you have created, and to live to that word in activity. Your projected personality in activity is what you are. How you act in relation to another person is what matters. It is not your initial status in life, but your habit in personality that matters. It is how you project yourself in activity which will create your reality, your impact, and your future.
LIVING UP TO THE WORD, NOT YOUR POPULARITY
A God-conscious person is not one who wears a turban like me, or who wears religious clothes. Those things are only a beginning to God-conscious habits. The God-conscious person is someone who can live up to his word under any given circumstance. Your word is what you create. Your word is the essence and creativity of your communication. It is your communion with yourself and others. When a person communicates what he means with perfect spirit, his communication is complete, and he can live up to his words. 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 am your friend," live up to it with your utmost integrity and clarity about your own word. If you tell somebody you will stand by him and help him, then stand by and help under all conditions.
I met hundreds of teachers who were popular and known as Gurus. Most of them said beautiful things and were inspiring. But there was something very wrong. The students appeared happy, but they still had inner conflict, lacked depth, and did not really change. Many things seemed right, but something was wrong and prevented the students from attaining the steady equilibrium and peace that the teaching should give.
I concluded there are two basic problems. First, many of the teachers are competing for a position rather than serving. Second, they shy away from the direct spiritual confrontation and wrestling that the student needs, because they want popularity. These days, teachers compete to be recognized as an incarnation of God. A great deal of money is spent on this. Many ancient scriptures say that at this time, an incarnation has to take place. A new spiritual awakening must occur. So everybody tries to tell the world, "I am the incarnation.” The Gurus who are on this kind of trip lack compassion.
The Guru opens the door to the cage of a problem and makes a person free to 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 a Guru. He is a garbage cleaner.
In America, we think a Guru is a holy man who can create miracles. He has many disciples, is skinny, and closes his eyes all the time. We have imagined all kinds of images and powers that a Guru has. It is a very strange world where we believe our hallucinations rather than simple truth. People have been so thoroughly brainwashed that these weird expectations are taken for granted.
I experienced this stereotype. One student of mine would not give up her idea. She said to me, "One morning at 3:30, I had the experience that you came and made me get up." I said, "That can happen, but not in the way you now think it does. My life is dedicated in one prayer: “Lord God, all people should love and belong to you.” Emotionally, mentally, and in action this is what my frequency is. As a yogi, both my conscious and subconscious minds act and project in that frequency. When you tune in to me, the only thing you can do is praise the Lord, because that is what I stand for."
I pressed the case to her, "Tell me, my dear, on that night, when you went to bed, did you promise yourself to get up at 3:30, have a cold shower, and meditate?" She said, "Yes." I said, "Where did you learn to do that?" "From you." I said, "That’s why you experienced it. God appeared in the form of my personality and bugged you to get out of bed, take a cold shower, and feel good. It was not me personally. I never went to you at all. Don’t attribute that to me. Whatever your mind tunes into and whatever words go deep into your self, the subconscious will use to guide you to the Universal Mind. My words and image were at the frequency of Infinity, and your own mind used those to connect with you."
REALIZE THE GURU WITHIN
The only purpose of having a Guru outside yourself is to realize the Guru within yourself. When you share a problem with your Guru, his compassion will fill you up, and it will pull you out of the problem forever, because there is no better remedy than the flow of a compassionate word from one human being to another.
Another qualification of a Guru is that he acts as a guide, rather than controller. A guide is not a commander. He may confront your ego and wrestle with your nonsense, but he always gives you to yourself so you can give your ego to God. The Guru guides by suggesting the truth, but not being attached to the suggestion.
That is why in almost every country in the world, there is a convention or law that says, "If somebody confides in a holy man, the holy man cannot be made to betray that confidence." If these holy people are put before the court, and they do not want to speak, they are not forced to do it. The qualified Guru has the capacity for confidentiality. A sane society recognizes this need. A great person establishes this relationship outside of and within himself. The Guru fulfills many deep, instinctual needs in a human being. Most human societies realize that they need a person with whom a person can speak, confront, and communicate in total freedom and 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 and clean. The Guru is a storehouse of the technical knowledge of how to be a human being and master life. You can go to the Guru when you have been shaken and get taken care of, so that you are fit again to take up the responsibilities of this life. The Guru is the secret chamber of your inner self where you can confide your greatest secrets and be guided in the light of righteousness.
YOGI BHAJAN ON WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE A TEACHER
What is this teacher business? You think, “Oh my God, now I have to surrender to somebody.” That is not true. You should not surrender to anybody. But aren’t you that unfortunate that you don’t have one person in your life who can tell you, “Stop!” Are you worse than the road? When two roads meet, there is a Stop sign. So you stop. You look left, you look right, you look forward, you look in the mirror backward, and then you go. Why do you do that? Because that guarantees your safety. There has to be in one’s life a person or a commitment, or a thought, or a self discipline, where you can stop. You can buy the best car in the world, but if it doesn’t have brakes, you cannot ride in it.
With a teacher there are three things which work: endurance, patience, and honor. And if you want to become a great master, learn reverence. It’s complete. The teacher is a living channel between now and Infinity. Try to follow him. Try to understand him. Try to read between the lines of the teacher. A teacher can go to any extent. You can’t understand a Teacher because when you understand, he says, “More.”
Sometimes you get tired. “What is this ‘more, more’ business? Who the hell is he? What does he want? Why is he saying these things? Has he crossed my dignity, my identity?” You are preparing for a court case; you are not learning to learn.
Every student has to conquer his teacher. Not sexually, sensually, or wisdom-wise, but in an absolutely super-self and enlightened capacity. Everybody has to do that. Because you are the tomorrow; the Teacher is the today. It must be understood that God is not on holiday. He has not left the planet Earth. He has created you, and He can take care of your routine.
Question: What is the function of a genuine teacher in a spiritual path and in Kundalini Yoga?
YOGI BHAJAN: The teacher does not control you, or try to please you. He guides, confronts, and elevates you. You have to rebuild yourself. You must leave your subconscious garbage behind. Consciously work it out, rebuild it, and transform it, so you can enjoy the higher consciousness which is the Guru’s way.
That is the difference between belonging to some egocentric maniac who calls himself a Guru, Man of God, or Messenger, and the real teacher. The phony will create a fog of words around God and distract you with beautiful and fanciful experiences. The teacher who you go to for the experience of God will first show you yourself and tell you to clean up.
Usually no one will tell you that you are ugly in consciousness. Few people even tell you that you have in your own consciousness an instrument that can transform that ugliness. When that is done, the natural flow of the cosmic current can pass through you. If you properly train and rebuild yourself, you can enjoy that process and awakening beyond imagination. You must have the discipline and consciousness to live off your own energy. The teacher acts as a touchstone, a mirror, and a guide.