Who is A ‘Guru’?

Full moon rising, seen through the Belt of Venus

The word ‘Guru’ has lot of negative connotations in the western world.  It is understandable because in a world full of horror stories of how Guru’s exploit the innocent, a cautious approach to that word is expected.

So, what does the word ‘Guru’ mean?

Today is the auspicious day of ‘Guru Purnima’ and understanding what ‘Guru’ really means is important.

‘Guru’ is a Sanskrit word and is made of two syllables. ‘Gu’ signifies darkness and ‘Ru’ denotes that which dispels darkness.The term “Guru” means one who dispels the darkness of ignorance.

What are we ignorant of, that needs dispelling?  We are ignorant of our own inherent goodness and capacity.  We are ignorant of our capacity to manifest love in all situations.  We are ignorant of our potential hidden within us.  We delve in darkness created by our own limited thinking arising due to attachments and desires.

The truth is, we are beyond the limits that we place on ourselves.  When we shine the light on that darkness that we have created, it disappears.  It was  not darkness, it was absence of light.

How do we shine light on our darkness?  There is no better ‘Guru’ than our conscience – that little voice inside of us which quietly and continuously whispers right words of advice, which we tend to ignore or not hear at all because our mind’s voice is so loud. That tiny voice that makes us recognise the right from wrong, that makes us squirm uncomfortably until we hear its reasoning, that voice is our true Guru because it is without attributes, and is formless.  Another meaning of ‘Guru’.  Gu = without attributes and Ra = without form.

If we heed that voice, which is non-judgmental, patient, loving and truthful in its persistence and is always steering us in the right direction, we are living the path of Righteousness or Right Conduct or Dharma. We are following our ‘Guru’.

It is because our minds are so clouded we tend not to trust that little voice or even unable to tell the difference when it is our inner voice speaking and when it is our mind’s voice shouting.

How do we develop the capacity to discern the difference? Usually the first impressions we get is the inner voice speaking to us.  When there are nagging doubts about something, when something doesn’t feel right or when we get a distinct feeling in the gut, usually that is the ‘inner voice’ trying to get our attention.  It gets bold and loud when we listen to it and follow its advice.  Just as a true Guru never deserts his pupil, the inner voice too, never goes away. We can only strengthen it by paying attention to it and trusting its guidance.  Before we know, we are confidently walking on our chosen path brightly lit by our own indwelling ‘Guru’.

We may need teachers who can show that path but ultimately the ‘Guru’ that we need is right under our noses

Do you agree?

Drop a line here in comments or on Facebook. Would love to hear your opinions.

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari