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Guru Purnima: Celebrating the Importance of a Guru in Your Life

If there is one day in Eastern tradition that holds the most excitement for spiritual seekers, it is the day of Guru Purnima. In 2015, Guru Purnima falls on Friday, July 31. It is a day for humbly expressing gratitude to our Gurus; thanking them for the teachings and blessings that they have bestowed upon us. Honestly, this day is like Christmas to spiritual seekers.


Chandresh with his Guru and father,  His Holiness Shree Chamunda Swami.

Chandresh with his Guru and father, His Holiness Shree Chamunda Swami.

Guru Purnima is also the day when many seekers begin their spiritual training. Existing spiritual students and teachers graduate and begin to take on higher responsibilities. For me, Guru Purnima is a day to celebrate the existence of my Guru, His Holiness Shree Chamunda Swami, who just so also happens to be my father and my very best friend.

When I mention the term “Guru,” I don’t mean “teacher.” There are many other names I can use to describe a teacher: master, mentor, leader. But there is no synonym for Guru, because the word holds a unique meaning. Guru is Sanskrit, and translates to “the one who spreads the light and removes the darkness.” (Gu means darkness, and ru means the one who dispels darkness.) A teacher can give you a good amount of information about the divine, but a Guru gives you the experience of the divine. She or he peels back the layers of ignorance and negligence, helping you to find your light within.

Another misconception: A Guru is not a genie. An authentic Guru would never aim to make your journey so easy that you are reduced to mindlessness. Rather, a Guru will show you the path that you must walk on in order to reach the truth. He or she will help you overcome the hurdles along the way and keep you moving forward. If you are looking for a shortcut to enlightenment, a Guru is not the right source for you.

Why do you need a Guru?

·      To get the real experience of spiritual truth. Without a Guru’s guidance, all of that spiritual wisdom you’re taking in is nothing but borrowed knowledge. An authentic Guru takes you step-by-step through the journey of decoding the layers within you.

·      Because you need a guide. Any new journey gets tough without a guide. Of course, you may try to reach enlightenment on your own, but how do you know you’ve really arrived there? How do you know you’re on the right track?

·      To manage your ego. A Guru’s task is to constantly puncture your ego, yet still remain your muse, your closest friend, and your inspiration. Your ego is a constant challenge, but with a Guru’s support, the journey is a delight.

·      To make sense out of life. Every day we are bombarded with the drama of life: the crazy family, the pesky friend, the unending stress at work. How do we make sense of this circus happening around us? We need someone who understands the drama, and can help us understand it too.

How do you recognize a true Guru?

You can’t.

That’s as simple as I can put it. Your mind is the cause of your troubles, so if you search for a Guru with that same mind, you will end up finding the one who satisfies your ego. Our ego can act as a major roadblock when accepting a Guru’s presence. There is a huge gap between our ego and our awareness. The ego will always doubt a Guru – a person who looks like us, but is known to have special wisdom.

So if you can’t recognize a Guru, how exactly will you ever find one?

The key is to not chase after a Guru. Stop trying to find your Guru. Your efforts won’t lead you anywhere, but your preparation will. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. There’s no GPS in the world that can help us reach the right Guru, but a Guru’s existence is designed in such a way that when we shed our ego, doubts, and insecurities, wisdom will keep leading us to the next step.

Think about it this way: If you ask a sleeping person if he’s sleeping and he says “yes,” then of course he’s not sleeping! When you ask someone if they are a Guru and their reply is “yes,” then that person is clearly not a Guru.

You can’t go to Guru school and earn a certificate of holiness. Becoming a Guru is an intrinsic blast of light that happens through meditation. Yes, it’s helpful and inspiring to read the teachings of an ancient Guru, but you need a real physical person to guide you through the steps in your journey as a seeker. When you see a person who looks like you, yet is still so unique and filled with inner light, you will become inspired.

Get Ready: 7 Tips to Prepare Yourself for Your Guru to Appear:

·      Accept that you are a student and be open to learning from the experiences in your existence.

·      Stop blindly believing. Start questioning everything you think you know about life.

·      Just like you have only one set of parents, there is only one Guru out there for you. Don’t waste your time browsing the spiritual market for a Guru.

·      Stop chasing after the Guru that you read about online. Trust in the cosmic existence; trust that it will lead you to the one when you are ready.

·      Meditate as much as possible, with the intention of opening your heart and soul to the energy of a Guru.

·      Don’t judge a new teacher based on testimonials about him or her; instead, see if the quality of your life changes after your meeting.

·      Work everyday to turn your ego into awareness. Prepare yourself for listening to the harsh – but important – truths that will come from your Guru.