By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness
Concluded from Part 2.
Ramakrishna tells us that the guru “is all in all. There is no one higher than the Guru.” (1)
While the Most High sometimes uses a teacher to get through to us in the external world, we’re also guided from within.
“God is the Inner Guide. He sees the longing of our heart and the yearning of our soul.” (2)
Our hearts are seen and our struggle is known, and if we can open the mind and look within, we’ll have all the love and guidance we need.
Our creator knows that we hunger for the higher vibration we once enjoyed. This is why so many continuous attempts are made, whether through a guru or not, to get our attention and remind us that we’re universal beings playing the temporary role of limited humans.
Once we see the signs and start to wake up, we kick start the process of spiritual evolution.
Whether a teacher gets us there faster or not, we’ll eventually return to the heavenly realms from which we came. This is why some people are more focused on helping the world than seeking enlightenment; they’re interested in spirituality but aware that they’ll inevitably return to a higher state of consciousness.
For now, they might as well put all of their energy into helping the world.
There’s nothing wrong with focusing more on the problems that plague this world in the here and now than ascending or attaining enlightenment, because the latter two will come at some point no matter what we do.
Even if we fall far off of the path and lose ourselves in darkness (which obviously isn’t recommended), we will return to the light one day. Since our fate is secure no matter what, the best use of our energy in the meantime is to create a better world for future generations.
Ramakrishna tells us that God manifests Himself as the guru to help those who are lost.
“Before you came here, you didn’t know who you were. Now you will know. It is God who, as the guru, makes one know.” (3)
With everything the Most High has done for us, it makes sense that He would also show the way back home. Ramakrishna explains.
“He who is the Lord of the Universe will teach everyone. He alone teaches us, who has created this universe; who has made the sun and the moon, men and beasts, and all other beings; who has provided means for their sustenance; who has given children parents and endowed them with love to bring them up.
“The Lord has done so many things – will He not show people the way to worship Him? If they need teaching, then He will be the Teacher. He is our Inner Guide.” (4)
Contradicting what I wrote before about a guru being comfortable with his or her imperfection, Ramakrishna tells us that the guru can only show the way if he’s understood as a flawless embodiment of God.
“It is Satchidananda that comes to us in the form of the guru. If a man is initiated by a human guru, he will not achieve anything if he regards his guru as a mere man.
“The guru should be regarded as the direct manifestation of God. Only then can the disciple have faith in the mantra given by the guru. Once a man has faith he achieves all.” (5)
This is another area in which we’ll want to think for ourselves. While faith is important, I don’t think we should put all of our faith in any spiritual figure, however enlightened they seem, because we all have a shadow side.
Some teachers have worked through their shadow side and are as enlightened as one can be on this planet, but I think we should be cautious in claiming that someone is divine or one with God.
We all have a spark of creator light in us, and we can all find enlightenment should we choose to focus on it. If we decide to study under a teacher, we can do so consciously rather than going purely on faith or assuming they’re God incarnate simply because we’re supposed to.
It probably helps to have faith in one’s teacher, but I think we should reserve most of our faith for ourselves and what we can achieve with the evolution of our soul.
If a man or woman successfully awakens our consciousness, Ramakrishna tells us, we can then be sure they are God in human form. Once we attain enlightenment, we no longer distinguish between teacher and student.
“Satchidananda alone is the Guru. If a man in the form of a guru awakens spiritual consciousness in you, then know for certain that it is God the Absolute who has assumed that human form for your sake.
“The guru is like a companion who leads you by the hand. After the realization of God, one loses the distinction between the guru and the disciple. … The relationship between them remains as long as the disciple does not see God.” (6)
Various distinctions will continue to exist as long as we feel separate from a higher consciousness. When we evolve into the understanding that everything is one, however, we see the value of a living teacher while realizing that the Most High, accessible within, has been our teacher all along.
The guru provided a bridge between the inner and outer world and helped us unlock states of consciousness that would’ve been difficult to attain without them, but they led us to something we can access at any time if we’re willing to do the necessary inner work.
It’d be more difficult and require more work since we’d be on our own, but it’s entirely possible to access these things without a teacher if we know our true power. The guru s intended to make us aware of our power, and if we don’t look within often, we could have the best teacher but make little progress because we aren’t relying on ourselves.
Once we shift our reliance from the external world to the internal, our inner wellspring of consciousness and awareness comes pouring to the surface. We can not only find enlightenment as a result, but create art that inspires and uplifts this lost world.
Some spiritual seekers find it necessary to have a teacher, while others prefer to walk the path without any guidance or direction.
What really matters is our dedication to our life purpose, our spiritual path and the higher consciousness within our reach. Guru or not, we can all evolve if we passionately engage our evolution and try to help the world in the process.
- Swami Vivishananda, The Saga of a Great Soul. Glimpses into the Life and Work of Mahapurush Maharaj Swami Shivananda, a Great Disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1986, 20.
- Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 112.
- Ibid., 359.
- Ibid., 80.
- Ibid., 292.
- Ibid., 217.