The ancient Sanskrit word “guru” comes from two root words “gu” (darkness) and “ru” (removal of such). The classical Hindu text called the Guru Gita refers to the meaning of the word “guru” as being the one who leads us from the darkness of ignorance to the true light of pure consciousness. How easy it is for our limited ego-mind to project a wish for such liberation upon a human being who is not fully realized, and as such, cannot support our spiritual journey through its perils and promises. Because of our projections, we end up disappointed, feeling misled, coming to believe that the word “guru” refers to one who abuses power or behaves scandalously.
A Satguru, however (“sat” in Sanskrit meaning true), refers to a fully awakened master. The Guru Gita says that a true guru is one who is neither bound by his senses nor limited by form, as “gu” refers to “beyond the qualities” and “ru” to “devoid of form”. Anyone who truly seeks true guidance on the spiritual path must be sure that the person in whom they place their trust in is indeed a fully awakened master. We are taught through sacred texts that those who are fully realized are those who love all beings equally and see all beings equally. In the case of the vast majority of us, we easily fall short of those very crucial qualifications. These qualities are indeed very rare.
Though I would love to see fully realized masters fill up every football stadium across the globe, those beings are not drawn to the limelight for its own sake, but quietly live their lives in humble service to humanity wherever they may be and in whatever way they may best serve. Crowds may draw, but that is not their motive.
We must ask ourselves, if a realized master were to shine his or her full, radiant light, would we find it too bright? The light of a realized master is not one that eclipses our shadow, but that sheds light onto the totality of who we are, so that we must learn to embrace our entire being, including our darker, uncomfortable and painful places. Can you imagine being invited to a football stadium not for a shiny, entertaining pastime, but to be in the light of truth so that we may integrate our shadow? Ticket sales would be abysmal. We want to believe in our sugar-coated superstars so that our pain, for a moment, falls away.
If we are true aspiring yogis, we will see ourselves in the journalists who cannot allow themselves to believe in the eternal light because they are so attached to their pain. We too have that tendency, active or not. We can then have compassion for those who write cynical articles and put down light seekers because their cynicism is simply the other side of the light seeker’s coin – both naive and in denial. The cynics have sunk into their shadows, while the light seekers levitate above theirs.
Any good yoga teacher will know that they are not the doers, but a humble vehicle for an ancient, brilliant and wise-beyond-words message of love and interconnection that comes through them – but is not about them. The message of yoga is about a profound intelligence that exists within all things, through all things, all the time. It inspires hope and compassion as we meet the fullness of our lives with true courage – the good, the bad and the ugly… all of it. We all make mistakes. We are all flawed, finite beings. We are also infinite, divine beings of eternal light. As yogis, we need to stay within the apparent “union of opposites” in order to be true yogic aspirants, so that we may eventually embrace both the light and the dark and transcend duality to become “Yoga”, that is, the eternal light of pure consciousness that is our true nature.
Parvati Devi is the editor-in-chief of Parvati Magazine. In addition to being an internationally acclaimed Canadian singer, songwriter, producer and performer, she is a yoga teacher and holistic educator, having studied yoga and meditation since 1987, and developed her own yoga teaching style called YEM™: Yoga as Energy Medicine. Her current shows, “YIN: Yoga in the Nightclub” and “Natamba”, bring forward a conscious energy into the pop mainstream.