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Time with a Teacher

Time with a Teacher

        Spending time in the company of a good teacher is very important in the practice of yoga. Chapter 6:23 of the Bhagavad Gita states, “yoga must be practiced with faith, with a strong and courageous heart.” In essence, this means that satsang with a Guru/teacher is very important. We must never give up on our sadhana, as we must always study and practice to be better devotees. Buying a few books on spirituality will never really help us; it may provide us with consolation, or temporary relief from our dilemma, but it will not ultimately change our condition of suffering.

        To really have a shot at changing our orientation towards life would require a dramatic shift in our priorities; we would have to become a lot more devoted to God, and less devoted to ourselves. In order to ultimately to become enlightened, we would have to devote our whole life to God. The problem is that most of us do not know how to devote ourselves, or practice, and furthermore, most of us don’t even want to practice. Truly, it was by the grace of my Guru that I was given the chance to learn how to practice. This grace provided me with the tools to realize more intense forms of happiness.

       Many people that I have talked to, particularly Westerners, don’t seem to think they need a Guru. This is the myth that propels the self-help movement. The message generally is “I realized happiness on my own and so you can you!” I can testify from my own experience that frequent and direct contact with a spiritual friend is essential to the enjoyment of real happiness. As Bodhidharma once said, “Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help.” I find this interesting because a lot of people in the self-help movement seem to be saying that they don’t need anyone to help them but themsleves. I am definitely not one in a million in this context of whom Bodhidharma speaks, neither were most of the great sages that we know of, including Gautama Buddha. In this context, the true devotee of God is a devotee first and a teacher second. Being a teacher is not a status, just a function, and at the end of the day the teacher is just a devotee. Life is the real teacher! Life is  what is communicating to us and teaching us in every moment and through everything, and most of us need intensive contact with a teacher in order to translate this communication into a language we can understand.

       The human Guru is a part of us, as they are a representative of our greater nature. Without the human Guru there would not be the opportunity to realize Nirvana. I cannot, and will not, be able to ever separate my spirituality from my Gurus, as they are a progressive expression of different stages of awakening in my own spiritual journey. If you have ever spent any time with one, you know what I am talking about.  Don’t believe the self-help myth: we all need help. How can the ego grant itself such graceful gifts such as enlightenment? Truly, it is God that gives us everything that we have and need. The true process of initiation is always through the direct transference of wisdom from one initiate to another. Realization is best served through the direct communication of an adept.

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