Positive Possibilities: The Light of the Satguru, by Parvati Devi
From an early age, our culture teaches us to believe in saints and saviours that will take away all our sins. We are persuaded that our sinfulness will be magically removed by their super powers, while we lie back and avoid our responsibility for our own evolution. Like yearning children, we hungrily want to believe that some mystical big mummy or daddy will dissolve our pain and do our uncomfortable work for us. But we are not little children living in lack. We are adult children of the divine who are fully supported to do our very important inner work and take responsibility for the shadows that we – no one else – cast behind us. Yet we distract ourselves from our pain as we look to others for escape. We amplify their light, so that it may, for a while, free us from the darkness we fear.
I do believe that there are real Buddhas on the planet, true realized masters who live in the oneness of absolute, eternal love. But the light of pure consciousness is not a conditional light like that of day and night. The light we cultivate in spiritual practice is not about luminosity to outshine the dark, but about the ultimate dissolution of the ego’s need for duality into the eternal substratum that is the essential underpinning of all of creation. We are limited humans with limited words, so we call that substratum “light”. How can a finite word in a dual world ever capture the perfection of such a force?
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. Sacred texts say that those who are fully realized are those who love all beings equally and see all beings equally. The vast majority of us easily fall short of those very crucial qualifications. They 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, 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 charming, sugar-coated superstars so that our pain, for a moment, seems to fall away.
I hold in the light of my heart that imperfect teachers who are the subject of scandals may believe in their own inner beauty and human potential, which clearly they have forgotten. The teachers may have bought into the sparkle of fool’s gold while conveniently forgetting to notice the mud with which it came. It is easy to get stuck judging the shape and size of the window dressing, forgetting that what is essential is the wisdom that comes through the window.
Parvati Devi is the editor-in-chief of Parvati Magazine and an internationally recognized Canadian musician, yogi and new thought leader. As a chart-topping touring musician, Parvati spearheads the Post New-Age musical genre with her independent success hit single “Yoga in the Nightclub” and accompanying show “YIN”. She founded YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine, a powerful yoga method that combines energy work and yoga poses. Her critically acclaimed self-help debut book “Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie – A Revolutionary Life Makeover for the Sincere Spiritual Seeker” is currently in its third edition.