Seven Secrets of Meditation - Part 7: The Role of the Teacher
- For meditators wanting to make very fast progress in their spiritual
life, the last of the seven secrets of meditation is also the most
important. This last step is usually taken when the others have been
observed and developed especially our sincerity and regularity of
practice, the awakening of our aspiration, the resulting grace that
effort always brings and this secret also heralds the beginning of
another wonderful chapter, a new velocity and clearer direction in our
journey of self-discovery. The seventh secret is the discovery of our
spiritual teacher and the transformative role he or she will play.
An illumined master or guru is someone who has attained God-realisation
and offers this wisdom to others. Guru is a Sanskrit word meaning 'he
who illumines', and a real guru is a bridge, a connecting link between
man and God, earth and Heaven, our present reality and the full
flowering of our future possibilities.
The guru is like an elevator operator God is on the third floor
and we are on the first floor and he can take us up to the third floor
to meet God. "I am a broom" said Sri Ramakrishna in another analogy,
likening the role of the master to sweeping away the debris that
conceals our true nature.
What is the role of the guru? Their task is to make us consciously aware
of something vast and infinite and ever-free within ourselves, to
reconnect us with our truest and highest Selves, which is nothing other
than God Himself.
"A real spiritual Master tries to bring to the fore the inner divinity
of the disciple from deep within the disciple's heart. He knocks at the
disciples heart-door and awakens the divine child in him, which we call
the soul." - Sri Chinmoy.
We spend the first two decades of our lives learning from others
parents, teachers, college instructors since these know more than
we about each of the many life-skills we must learn. Once our
proficiency is established, we move on. In the spiritual life too, we
need the guidance of those who have journeyed much further along the
realisation road than we have without them our progress is
uncertain and slow.
"For millennia we have been swimming in the sea of ignorance. When we
become awakened, we want to swim across that sea into the ocean of Light
and Delight. If we know that there is a boatman, and that there is a
boat which can safely carry us to our goal, then naturally we will try
to get help from him. A genuine spiritual Master knows the way and is
bound to help us reach the goal. Like a boatman, he will carry us to the
other shore." - Sri Chinmoy.
While a school teacher gives each pupil the same lesson, a spiritual
master is more like a private tutor he sees the student's
individual capacity and propensities and will foster these. Each soul
has it's own unique way of meditating, it's special qualities and a way
forward that will enable very fast progress this self-knowledge is
usually unknown to us but very clear to a true master. Working with this
insight he can help us to navigate our way forward quickly, clear away
the inner blocks and obstacles and through many inner experiences show
us what we have within, what we shall one day become.
When a master accepts a student or disciple, an inner bond is forged.
The master promises God to take care of the disciple, not only in this
lifetime but throughout the long journey to God-realisation, and also
brings the soul to the fore, injecting light and aspiration into the
awakening inner life. This inner process is called initiation and can
occur in a number of different ways through meditation; occultly
or psychically; through an outer blessing or mantra.
"When the Master initiates someone, he gives that person a portion of
his life-breath. At the time of the initiation, the Guru makes a solemn
promise to the individual seeker and to the Supreme that he will do his
best to help the seeker in his spiritual life, that he will offer his
heart and soul to take the disciple into the highest region of the
Beyond At the time of initiation, the Master actually takes on the
disciples teeming imperfections, both from the present incarnation and
from past incarnations This flowering of the initiation is really
more than initiation. It is the revelation of the disciples' own
inner divinity. At that moment, they feel that they and their Guru have
totally become one." - Sri Chinmoy.
The path of a true master will be defined by a number of spiritual
disciplines and lifestyle observances. Why are these necessary?
Spiritual masters are like parents who deeply love their children
they want their children to realise their fullest potential, not lie in
bed all day, develop bad habits and never blossom. The disciplines of a
particular path create the optimum conditions in which the disciples can
fully grow just as the plant thrives in the sunlight, our
spiritual life also blossoms in the right conditions. The requisites and
recommendations of the master are not confining but liberating
here are the steps we must take, the negatives we must erase and the
practices that will bring about our enlightenment.
If we cling to our limited notion of freedom usually this is
simply self-indulgence and undervalue the true freedom of
self-realisation (freedom from attachment, suffering, everything in our
unillumined nature that limits us and prevents our full self-discovery)
a spiritual path will be very difficult to follow. But when we know that
we are not illumined or truly free, that all our life choices have
failed to make us truly happy, and from this understanding comes an
openness and willingness to take help from a path and a teacher, then we
are ready. If we have become fossilized, unwilling to change or embrace
a new way, then no teacher can help us.
In the West we are frightened of `commitment' and the imagined
loss of our personal choices but in accepting a spiritual path we
should see this instead as an invitation to explore a new way forward, a
new opportunity. Commitment grows slowly over time, even over years, as
our understanding grows and our inner bond with the guru strengthens.
"The Guru and the disciple must test each other sweetly, seriously and
perfectly before their mutual acceptance. Otherwise, if they are wrong
in their selection, the Guru will have to dance with failure and the
disciple with perdition." - Sri Chinmoy.
How to know which teacher is meant for us? We imagine that we must
assess all the possible masters, make a rational choice based on all the
available information. But in reality it is the path and the master that
find us as we become ready there may be an existing bond between
disciple and master, or a natural predilection towards the yoga of a
particular path, or inner factors about which our mind will almost
certainly be unaware. It is the inner realities and affinities that
determine our spiritual life at this level, not the limited
comprehension of the mind. Here, heart's feeling and intuition are
more important than mental consideration. Our spiritual life is like a
stream flowing down a mountainside left alone it will find
it's way, but if blocked and checked by the impositions of the mind
it will get diverted and slowed. Out of our sincerity, regular practice
and growing aspiration our teacher will eventually come to find us.
"There is no seeker on earth who will remain without a teacher if he is
desperately in need of one. If his aspiration is intense, if his inner
cry is constantly mounting, how can God remain asleep? It is God who has
kindled the flame of aspiration in that particular seeker, and it is God
who will bring a spiritual master to him or place him at the feet of a
spiritual master." - Sri Chinmoy.
You will know your guru when you meet him by the immediate joy you will
feel there are other genuine masters, but this guru gives you an
immediate feeling of spontaneous joy. While the goal is one and the
same, the paths leading to the goal are many but it is a mistake
to have more than one teacher, one path at the same time and will cause
confusion. Each teacher has his or her own prescription and their one
path is enough to take you to the top of the mountain.
In the West, having a spiritual master can sometimes attract cynicism or
criticism. Do not be disturbed by this. Many challenges lie waiting to
test our resolve, but our strength will slowly grow and the approval of
others will cease to be important. Most spiritual masters themselves
have been criticized during their lifetimes and the prejudices and
misunderstandings of mankind are well documented the life of
Christ is an obvious example. These misunderstandings still exist today.
Always trust in your own sincerity, make up your own mind and heart. To
have reached a point in your evolution where you have become deeply
interested in spirituality indicates that you are a very special person,
with very good karma, even though you may not feel this about yourself.
Sri Chinmoy has a song-mantra, 'dak eseche bishwa prabhur dak' it
means God is calling you, your hour has struck, a profoundly special
time has come in your life. Have courage and determination and go
forward with your teacher on the most wonderful and liberating journey
of them all. It is the greatest good fortune that any seeker of the
truth could ever have.
Seven Secrets of Meditation: http://tinyurl.com/2glyma
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