Recently, someone was asking me about the connection to the Guru. Words are limited. Whatever “under-standing” I have on this matter comes from the experience of “standing-under” God’s Presence through Sri Gurudev Satchidananda’s loving guidance.
Today I am far from being an enlightened person or the best of examples, but I would not trade what I “under-stand” for any skill, accomplishment or knowledge acquired under the values and systems of this world, and for this I am deeply grateful.
The Guru-disciple relationship is a deep spiritual connection. As such, it is unbreakable and unconditional. Guru and disciple do not exist without each other. They are each part of the same majestic process just like giving and receiving are part of the same law.
As paradoxical as it may seem to some, discipleship is the key to true individual dignity and freedom. Through discipleship, the Guru who is the purifying force of the love of God, is able to transform the limited tendencies of our lives so that we may realize our true nature as the eternal changelessness of God and thus discover that our happiness does not depend on anything or anyone outside of our Self.
What is discipleship? True discipleship, the one that bears beneficial liberating fruit, is an attitude, a way of life. It is both a perennial process and the continuous outcome of that process. Having been raised as a Christian, I am reminded of the words in the Bible: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” These words are to me a perfect description of the attitude of discipleship and its ongoing function throughout life.
To the disciple the Guru is the sheer Grace of God. In Sanskrit the word “Guru” means “remover of darkness. “Gu” means darkness or ignorance and “ru” means the remover. But what else can remove the darkness if not the Light? To the disciple the Guru is the Light, the sacred instrument of introspection, the point of contact that sparks the current of the Light within and its radically transforming radiance. The Guru bridges the way, so to speak, and enables us to open the gate to the splendor of the Presence within.
Standing-under this Presence in constant and unconditional acknowledgment of its supreme reality is loving the Lord with all one’s heart, all one’s mind, all one’s strength, all one’s self, with everything one has and through everything one does, always. Reverently standing-under not by rejecting or denying our nature, but by wisely coming to understand it and putting all of its use at the feet of the Divine. When this can sincerely be done, the obstructive darkness is removed and what remains shining is the changeless all-encompassing Reality, the Eternal Light.
The kind of love one experiences for the Guru is timeless and unconditional. It rises above the change called death and the changing circumstances or difficulties undergone in the path of continual transcending. Difficulties, which, in the long run, are what help propel the disciple out of human consciousness into the spiritual realms, similar to the complexities of the countdown of launching a rocket into space. The difficulties are caused because one of the natural tendencies of the human-identified ego is to try and find security in situations that are fixed and unchanging, not realizing that, by its very nature, fixation rejects the sweeping liberating movements of the Spirit. In order to be truly alive in Spirit we must allow it to move through us and assume any and all positions at any and all times, because by so doing it frees us from anything that might have become fossilized, obsessive or crystallized.
Since time immemorial, vigilance is paramount in this process, which has been compared to walking on a razor’s edge. The first of the Ten Commandents says: “I AM the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” This reverberates throughout the entire Cosmos and the inner recesses of the soul. One can easily fall off the razor’s edge, attracted by the pull of gravity stemming from the human consciousness and its layers of limited conditioning—one of them being the ego’s natural pull and inclinations.
The ignorance of the human condition and tendency of the ego is to desperately seek fulfillment through various things: from roles in life, concepts, name and fame, mind-altering substances, people, things, possessions—the list can go on and on—thereby achieving nothing but the perpetuation of the sense of separation from God. It is only the interference of the Guru’s Grace that can pull one from that unfortunate detour back onto the main highway the destination of which is the holy of holies, the fountain of life within one’s own heart.
During the yearly celebrations of Jayanthi (Swami Satchidananda’s birth anniversary) and Guru Poornima (July full moon celebration of Guru Tattva–the Guru Principle) how often I heard Sri Gurudev remind us: “Remember that what we are celebrating is not the birth of this body in your midst. This body is just a cover, a symbol. What we are really celebrating are the Guru Principle, the Spirit, the Teaching. You all must eventually find and listen to the Guru within. I tell you that if, through your association with me, you don’t find then Guru within then I have failed in my job!” Blessed glorious words. They have served me in the past and serve me today as powerful reminders, if per chance I find myself detouring. They lift me up to where I belong, that is, the place of loving adoration for the all-consuming fire on the altar my heart!
How does discipleship work? Discipleship works as everything else in nature works. The whole universe is ruled by cycles of expanding and contracting, growing and receding, giving and receiving. We see this everywhere, even in our very breath. Nothing ends, everything is always being transformed. This is the natural way of life. As human beings we usually tend to ignore this law and go about life walking with a lopsided step striving to get and not to give, striving to hold on and not to let go, etc. Discipleship is the acknowledgement of this law and its fulfillment because through discipleship we take the other step, so to speak, and balance is restored.
Viewing it in its truth, discipleship is the natural condition of life in all levels no matter what our roles in life may be. Sri Gurudev was asked once to describe the relationship between Guru and disciple from his respected point of view as a “widely famous Guru.” In his usual gentle way he simply replied: “To me the disciple is the Guru and the Guru is the disciple.” These words of wisdom clearly declare the intrinsic importance of keeping a position of discipleship all through life.
Guru-disciple is a most holy union. It is eternal, defying time and space. It is unshaken by external circumstances and remains forever invulnerable to the “slings and arrows” of human creation. It is a hymn celestial continually rising to the throne of God from when it proceeds. It glorifies the Almighty and makes the heavens rejoice. It makes the human divine and opens the portals to God’s perfect purpose. And wonder of wonders, once established in an individual’s heart, it miraculously sets the pattern for all other relationships. The Guru is seen everywhere, in everyone and everything, thus every trial becomes an opportunity, every failure a victory, every personal exchange becomes holy and existence becomes a constant miracle. The heart cannot but expand in wave after wave of loving adoration and gratitude to Almighty God at the magnificence of such gracious blessings!
Guru and disciple then, fulfill the law of life which is the law of love. When this law is thus fulfilled, life is transformed into a glorious natural flow of peace and joy unspeakable because by then it has become obvious that there is nothing, but nothing, but nothing but God.
About the Author:
Amma Kidd grew up in Nicaragua as part of one of the country’s ruling families. She later moved to New York where she worked at the United Nations. She met her Guru, Sri Swami Satchidananda, in the late 1960s, soon after his arrival in America, and then became his personal and traveling assistant for a number of years. She and her late husband, retired Air Force Major General John B. Kidd, moved to Virginia in the late 1980s, in order to be closer to Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville. A gifted writer and speaker, after her husband’s death, Amma moved to Yogaville where she regularly gives talks on a variety of topics relating to Yoga and spirituality.