The gift of India to the world is her culture of Self-Realization, her vision of raising human beings to the heights of God-consciousness. Modern society, disillusioned with the empty grandeur of materialism, looks to the perennial philosophies of the East for guidance and refuge. From ancient times to the present day, an unbroken succession of God-realized souls have taken birth in India to lead seekers of Truth to their goal.
It is not surprising that some self-seeking individuals have put on the garb of enlightened masters to take advantage of the thirst for spiritual guidance. The West has suffered much from this deception and has developed paranoia toward “Gurus.” Because of a few charlatans, we need not lose faith that genuine Masters exist. Because some quacks are practising medicine, do we cease to look for a reputable doctor to free us from our illness?
“Why does one need a spiritual guide?” you may ask. “After reading a few books, can’t I make my own way along the spiritual path?”
If one desires to become a doctor, one must study under the instruction of learned professors. Even after graduating from medical school, one interns in a hospital under the guidance of practising doctors. We spend many years to fulfil our dream of becoming a doctor. What then of aspiring to realise the Supreme Truth?If we desire spiritual wisdom, we must seek out true spiritual Masters who have studied, practised and experienced Truth.
What distinguishes a true teacher from an impostor? In the Presence of an Enlightened Being, one feels a tangible aura of love and tranquility. We can observe the equal treatment that all receive regardless of status or fortune, religion or race, from one immersed in Divinity. Each word and action of a true Master serves to awaken people spiritually. No trace of ego or selfishness exists in a Mahatma, who, with open arms, receives and serves all.
The true Guru cannot be known by the intellect; a Satguru is beyond all logic and judgement, for the Satguru is an experience. The Satguru is not to be known by intellectual callisthenics but is recognised spontaneously by those of pure heart. Recognition can only be of that which was once known and the Satguru seems to be a new factor in our lives, so how is it that one recognises the Satguru? The Satguru is recognised for the true teacher is none other than our true self, our innate nature. The Guru is truly known only when the disciple himself or herself goes beyond the self-imposed limitations of individuality and merges with the Self, which is none other than the Guru.
The same principle is known as Iswara, as Guru or as the Atma (the Self)- there is no difference among the three; the difference, if any is perceived, is due to our marred perception. We see the Guru, God or the Self as we are. So if we approach the ocean with a cup – then we get a cupful of water, the bigger the vessel the more we are able to carry. There is no meaning in blaming the ocean for what we have.