From Personal Guru to Universal Guru

Many schools of thought encourage a relationship with a personal guru.  From these various traditions many ways of relating to the guru have emerged, yet time-tested wisdom continues to present us with a proper understanding of the various facets of this interaction.  What does a guru do?  What are the qualities of a good guru?  How does one choose a guru?  What is this relationship and experience like and how does it change?  And most importantly, to what purpose does this personal guru ultimately serve?

There are many preconceived notions involving the term “guru,” but it is universally agreed that the guru imparts something to the disciple, whether that be peace, enlightenment, wisdom, etc.  What many misunderstand is that recieving something from the guru requires giving something.  This something is preconceptions.  The disciple must psychologically surrender his ideas of what a guru is or does in order to open up to a true guru.  This is what the guru does… the guru gives, if the disciple can receive.

These preconceived notions that must be surrendered often blind people to the qualities of a true guru.  A guru is never represented by any extreme.  He is not some lofty being levitating beyond the clouds, nor is he an ascetic extremist destroying his bodily temple.  A true guru does not de-emphasize any aspect of this incarnation.  He is not spiritual to the detriment of his relationships to people, plant, or planet.  He may or may not be famous, wealthy, healthy, old, or male.  Believe it or not, he very well may not have a long gray beard!  However, if all self-deception is suspended on part of the would be disciple, then the most significantly important quality of a personal guru is his ability to communicate directly, deeply, and completely.  Can he penetrate the disciple’s psychological armor, see the face behind the masks, and reach and shine the mirror within?

If this is done, how does it feel?  What is the experience like through its changing phases?  There are four stages of a relationship with a guru: infatuation, inferiority, contentment, and indifference.  In the beginning, the disciple admires the guru, wishes to spend more time with him, and win his affection.  Once the disciple gains access to the guru, he becomes very self-conscious.  The guru is very perceptive and nothing is hidden, leaving the disciple feeling exposed and unworthy.  The disciple eventually drops this game, recognizing these feelings are of his own creation.  He then begins to recognize that the guru is present in some form, whether in body, spirit, or teaching, despite distances of space and time.  The sense of urgency is removed and the disciple views the guru for what he is, a metaphor for everything.  The guru is woven into the disciple’s perception.  Feelings, places, circumstances, thoughts… all experience is an expression of the teachings of the personal guru.  The guru is finally universalized and the disciple…

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