Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Guru Purnima--Honoring the Teacher Within and Without
"The Guru is both external and internal. From the exterior he gives a push to the mind to turn inwards. From the interior he pulls the mind towards the Self and helps in the quietening of the mind. That is Guru's grace. There is no difference between God, Guru and the Self."--Ramana Maharshi
In the Indian tradition the full moon at this time is the day to honor your teacher. As someone said, if one has only oneself as a teacher then one has a fool for a guide. We all need teachers in any field we want to excel and master, except the very small minority of geniuses. Unfortunately, we get mixed up with being devoted and appreciative to a teacher, especially in the spiritual realm, to being consumed in an infantile adoration. Such adoration neither helps the teacher nor the student.
The teachers that have helped me along the way have been legion. In fact, I must say that everyone and every event (whether painful or pleasant) has offered to be my teacher in one way or the other, whether I was conscious enough to realize it at the time.
However, there are some teachers who have profoundly changed my life. There is Ramana Maharshi, whose glance has taken me to the Silence beyond the mind, and who whispers to me when I get all caught up in trying to figure this mystery called life and death--"Who are you?" There is Jesus who has taught me forgiveness by reminding me that I am eternally perfect and that no action could ever taint my Being, and has showed me the power of miracles by asking to see the Christ in all creatures. There is St. Francis who has taught me the joy of simplicity and the love of all creatures and manifestions of Nature. There is Ramakrishna who has taught me that all paths lead to the same Oneness, whether it is devotion to an Ideal Form or the realization that there is No Other. There is Rudolf Steiner, by his creation of Waldorf education, who has opened up a path of service in a world that had previously offered nothing for me. There is Karunamayi who has given me spiritual tools of mantras and who opened the door to Saraswati, the Goddess of art and knowledge, and who is a living embodiment of Sattwa or pure sweetness. To the great poets of Hafiz, Rumi and Kabir whose words have influenced mine in their unabashed devotion to the Beloved. Then there is Krishna who fills my heart and washes my face with tears, and Rama who has donned me with his golden armor of dispassion to take what the world throws at me. And finally Shiva (also manifesting as Yama), the Still Center, watching all things turn to ash and saying: Neti neti--I am not this, not this.
Blessings to all these and to all the great Masters who guide humanity out of ignorance and into the Light.