I always have considered myself quite intellectually capable, and have been fairly independent in my big life choices, so I'm sure many would ask why I've chosen a Guru as a guide for the most important aspect of my life which is my spiritual growth.
For most people that are reasonably educated or successful, it seems silly, weak in character, irrational, or in some extreme cases, even infuriating, that a smart and sane individual would choose to devote himself to a human master.
Some of the strongest arguments against this choice typically follow a pattern as follows. Live a successful life. Be kind and loving to your family & friends. Give whatever you can to those in need. Don't get caught up in the past or worry too much about the future. Invest in whatever gives you joy. But whatever you do, don't fall prey to a religious order or become a slave of a spiritual leader!
I might have very well spouted the same philosophy to many around me if my choices had been different, or if Isha Yoga had not entered my life and transformed me in a hugely noticeable way. So I thought it would make sense now to write about why I took this decision and how it has been one I am grateful for, and certainly proud to share, and hopefully this could inspire others to gain clarity, or at the very least, understand my perspective.
Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that a 'spiritual' dimension exists. I think the word spiritual can easily be misconstrued or interpreted negatively with disdain. As a species we are possibly the only ones capable of noticing this aspect of ourselves. However, there are still too many people living without any true experience of a profound nature, or allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by grace, which is regrettable.
It is also necessary to recognise that our achievements, possessions, relationships and activity will always be limited in the sense that they are cyclical, temporary and incomplete by nature. However beautiful or important we may think they are, when we die, all of these will be gone.
So the longing to know something beyond the limited is natural, and finds expression in many ways. However, the same longing can unfortunately also end up making people choose self destructive ways.
If one is smart and fortunate enough to identify and follow a steady guide (or guides) to navigate any uncharted territory in life and in the world, be it business or science or sport or art, we call the person smart.
But why is it that when a person chooses a Guru to navigate his inner journey, we call him foolish?
I would like to quote a beautiful Sanskrit couplet that some would recognise from the Guru Pooja mantra. A powerful chant filled with emotion, sonic grandeur, and deep meaning, it sort of explains everything.
चक्षुरुन्मीलितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः
which could be translated (according to one website) as "He who removes the darkness of ignorance of the blinded (un-enlightened) by applying the ointment(medicine) of (Spiritual) knowledge, He Who opens the eyes, salutations unto that holy Guru"
Okay. So that's a great bunch of words, you may say. How does it apply to the context of what we are discussing here?
Most people are incapable of recognising the stubbornness of their ignorance, including me, at one point in my life. The pursuit of happiness is the only thing that matters to many.
In spite of clearly seeing the duality of creation, we refuse to transcend it, and continue to distract ourselves endlessly with one inane choice after another.
If the very simple, beautiful and unavoidable natural process of death does not serve as a reminder that who we think we are, or what the world thinks of us, is unimportant, I think one is truly lost.
So is there a way to look beyond the physical?
Yes, of course.
Is there only one way?
No, of course not.
Is my way the best way?
Yes, it is, for me.
If it works for me, is it my responsibility to share it?
Not necessarily, but yes, if someone is willing.
Are there any more questions? :)
There always are and will be!
I don't have all the answers but I think the strongest argument (if I could call it that) which I can come up with to answer the question at hand is this.
Of all the people I have encountered in my life, there is only one person I have found that has helped me transcend my individual existence, and experience something close to universality, or oneness with everything else in existence, even if it has only been momentary.
And this has not been because of a teaching or prayer or belief or practice or space created by one person. It is a combination of my own individual reasoning, feelings, experiences, and profound and blissful inner states, that have led me to discover this truth.
And everything that I have received from my Guru has only made me happier, healthier and more harmonious within myself and with everything around me.
Perhaps, you may say, all this could have been experienced without a Guru. But I am fortunate, blessed, privileged, honoured and grateful to have experienced it with one.
So as far as I'm concerned, to realise that I needed a Guru was the greatest lesson of my life, and to have found the best one is the greatest discovery of my life.
My spiritual journey has had its fair share of ups and downs, twists and turns, celebrations and hardships, confusions and epiphanies. But with every day, I am stronger, clearer, lighter and more equanimous.
I would be lying if I said I don't need anything else, but I am sure this possibility, of transcending our individuality, is available to each and every one of us, if we are willing to be honest with ourselves, and work on growing to our full potential as individuals, and in turn collectively as an inclusive humanity.