Here’s what Grace looks like sometimes: a photo of someone you love unflinchingly with your whole heart; someone who inspires you and is both honest and fierce in their approach to life and seeking a truly non-dual state of awareness. They aren’t even looking at the camera and yet love, joy, and open-heartedness ripples and radiates from every pore of their being. It’s uplifting and you can almost taste it. This photo has the power to reflect your true Essence Nature right back at you without effort. BAM!
I have a photo like this. It’s of someone very, very special to me that I haven’t seen in two years now, and who I might not get to see later this year unless I get a job and/or money coming in VERY soon. My heart’s inspiration. My Guru.
Yesterday – 25th July – was Guru Purnima. A day to celebrate all gurus and wisdom masters. And celebrations were had although I didn’t get to attend any. Not that it matters – this photo (which I am loathe to share with others because it is such an intimate matter for me) is more than enough. Without a word, it speaks volumes, and wakes me right up.
It says: Drop the frustration, for that is no way to live! Are you paying attention or are you forgetting? Tune into your heart; tune into the things that make you sing! Are you really alone anyway? Railing at life will not make it better. To grow, you MUST do the work! Celebrate! Get EXCITED!
Yes, a photo can say all of those things. At least, this one does. Well, that’s what is reflected back at me when I look at it, and what rises up within me in response.
There’s a very real possibility I might not be able to go on retreat as planned in October – back to Thailand and my fellow yogis and yoginis – because currently I’m living on the money I was saving for my flight and living expenses… and even that will be running out pretty soon.
That’s all I have. I don’t have other savings. Four months of unemployment last year knocked all of that out and the last twelve months have been about re-stabilising myself, trying to save for retreat and make sure I don’t look too shabby (i.e. owning relatively decent work clothes etc).
So, I might not get to go. Even if I get a job now, it might not be possible. I’d really have to save like the blazes to make it happen, but then, who am I to say what the next few months will be like?
In some ways it doesn’t matter at all. I have a wealth of teachings and practices to revel in. I know I am fortunate to be able to call someone like my Guru, my teacher. And I can’t begin to explain all of the ways that the distance doesn’t matter.
Anti-guru sentiment often surrounds the concept of someone being perceived as setting themselves up as a Guru while really just being a charismatic charlatan. There’s this suspicion that all they’re doing is building up a bunch of blind followers who unquestioningly adore them, and manipulating said followers to do their bidding – whatever that might be.
Even in India, there are both the pro-guru and anti-guru camps. I know it. There are even teachers I respect who, while not exactly anti-guru, sure aint pro-guru either.
And I know I can’t speak for anyone else’s experience of gurus, because my experience only includes mine.
But like any experience and preference we have, a guru-student relationship isn’t for everyone. In the same way I’m never going to be an astronaut or a dentist, not everyone will want to/be able to have a guru.
None of this matters to me. For whatever reason I was fortunate enough to meet this wonderfully inspiring person. I was also open enough at the time to see there was something to learn from him (massive, MASSIVE understatement).
And while I have many teachers of yoga and wisdom in my life – and I am profoundly grateful for all of them – my Guru alone causes my mind and body to sing (quite literally sometimes). He shines a great light on the possibilities of this life and when I’m not around him, I miss him very much. I wish I had the karma to live nearby him – perhaps that will happen later in my life, but not now.
Often, he is in my dreams and there are photos of him in my house and on my computer. Somehow, even those interactions are lessons with much to offer.
Guru to me, is essentially a big mirror. But one that reflects back my true nature as a human being, not just the small distorted view of myself I often have! Eventually, the idea is that one day I’ll I look in the mirror and see Guru and my Self as one. No separation, because Guru is me, and I am my Guru. In a real sense, not just imagined or desired.
Also, Guru is someone who has travelled the path I’m on and has come back to share knowledge with others. Guru is experienced, wise, compassionate and patient while I struggle with my fears. And always, Guru is waiting to help me take that next step whenever I am ready. And when I do, Guru is the first to break out the cheerleader dance.
Jaya Gurudev! Om gum gurubhyo namaha!