In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the importance of having a guru but the importance also applies to the sincerity of the seeker. There can be gurus for entertainment or gurus for serious spiritual growth. It is up to us who choose and who we choose may depend on a number of factors.
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Hello and welcome to the latest episode of the Bearded Mystic Podcast and I'm your host, Rahul N Singh. Thank you for joining today and for taking out the time to either watch or listen to this podcast. Just to let you know that season one is the general spiritual topics that we discussed on the podcast that is uploaded every Thursday and that season two is the Bhagavad Gita commentary that we're doing, and that is uploaded every Sunday. Today, we're going to be discussing something very interesting. The reason why it's interesting is because I've been asked this question a few times on social media about finding the right guru for you. How can I find the guru, the spiritual guru, the guru, meaning the person that leads you from darkness to light the one that guides you towards the truth. How do I find the right one for me? This is a very tough question because it depends on what you're looking for in spirituality. So we're going to explore this today about how you can find the right spiritual Guru for you. The first thing I want to talk about is the guru that's there for entertainment. Now this may seem a bit harsh what I'm going to say now. People may not like what I'm going to say. I just want to say, because we have to be very open and Frank in our spiritual journey. Yeah, we got to be really honest. If we are really going to embark on this spiritual quest towards enlightenment, or to understand that we are already enlightened or that we're already Brahman the Ultimate Reality, but sometimes maybe we are not after that. Maybe we're looking to get rid of our problems that we have according to our body and mind. Or we are looking for better circumstances and there's a guru out there that is meeting that need. Or we listen to guru just because they're popular or charismatic. Yet, we don't contemplate upon their teachings or we are following a lineage of teachers just because our family has followed that lineage and now we're following it. Now we got a question, whether we're following it because we are looking to improve our spirituality, just like the person in our family that found that spiritual guru, or are we just using spirituality for entertainment? We're going there because it's socially good, we find value in it socially and there are many social values we gain from being in a spiritual organization that may be headed by a guru. So I'm not going to mock that actually, I think there's a value there. What I mean by entertainment is that we're looking for the lower aspects of knowledge or wisdom. And that's not saying that that's a bad thing. I still think there is relevance in that. I still think that's better than nothing, basically you're minimizing the effect that spirituality can have upon you. While there is that aspect possibly with the same guru to have the maximum benefit, but we're going to dwell deep upon this. Mostly, whenever someone goes to a guru, one has to look at their own intention. Why are we following a guru? Why are we allowing ourselves to surrender to a guru? Is it because we're after, like I mentioned before, we want to get rid of our personal problems or are we really after the truth, the wisdom that they speak of? If you look at every serious seeker that has been out there or every serious spiritual guru that's been out there, the main thing they focused upon was the truth. If you look at the writings of Adi Shankara ji, what do you get from it? He was completely about Brahman and our realization that we are Brahman and how he could convey that to others. We see that in his writings, we see it in the writings of many of the mystics and many of the saints and sages of the past. We have to think about that now, what are we really after? Because a lot of us, we may be going to a place which speaks of the highest wisdom, but we have a superficial understanding of it. We may think that we understand something very lofty and high, but in fact, practically we've kept it at a very shallow and superficial level. So we may talk about connecting to God, connecting to a Higher Power, but really when it comes to it, we're looking to bargain or gamble with that Higher Power or with God. We've made God into something that we have a transactional relationship with rather than seeing that 'I' and God are the same, the soul and God is the same, which is the higher aspect of truth, the higher aspect of wisdom. We've got to think about whether we have a superficial understanding of Gyan or wisdom. Majority of people that go to a Guru for entertainment, they just have a superficial understanding. They'll go to a guru that will read the stories of the Ramayana or the Mahabharata and they're like, oh wow, that's amazing. But does that guru actually have any wisdom or that Guru starts saying crazy things like e isn't MC squared. People might know who I'm on about now, but that person is just superficial, just entertaining. They're not really wanting you to attain something spiritually. The next one is that there's more focus on the rituals than on Brahman. It's more about attending something or getting up in the morning and doing this, or for two weeks, do a commitment of silence, a vow of silence or a vow of not eating in the morning or fasting. All those types of things. There's more rituals attached to it. The reasons why these gurus make you do rituals is so that you are distracted from the Higher Truth. You distract yourself from inquiring that you want a Higher Truth. This is something which you have to ask yourself. Now, there are some gurus that may make you do rituals, but make you understand why you do the rituals. That's different. If you're doing something mechanically because you have to do it, or you haven't thought about it, you just do it because you've been told to, and if you don't listen to the guru, then there'd be fire and brimstone all around you. Then most likely you're following a Guru for entertainment or a Guru of entertainment shall I say. Another thing a real honest Guru also tells you where their knowledge stops. There's many examples in India where I don't know if it's the same thing here in the west, but definitely in India. I know of gurus that will tell you that "I'm telling you as much as I know, this other person, this other guru, go and follow them now. They have more knowledge. They have the higher wisdom and they can show you the way." Those types of gurus, even though initially they may involve you in rituals, they are training you for the higher purpose because once they know you've got it, once they know you're ready for it, they will tell you to go somewhere else. Those are the real genuine gurus, but they are few and far between that understand that they have a limitation. I wouldn't count them as gurus of entertainment. Those are very honest gurus. There may be into the karma kand, more of the ritualistic aspects, but at least they understand that there is a higher truth. But there are some that just get you involved in rituals to distract you. They tell you to do selfless service. Volunteer at the Ashram and they just distract you from even contemplating upon the higher truth. I think those are gurus that entertain you. If you see someone like that, you got to ask whether you're wanting that entertainment or whether you want the higher wisdom. Mostly you'll see that the seekers that are there, that are around you, most of them are probably just part time seekers. They're not really interested in having spirituality be a full-time thing. They see spirituality as the add-on, like an app on the phone rather than the phone itself. That's what you have to check as well. That is the guru, someone that is just an app that just requires you to listen to them part time. And remember, it's very easy to get into this trap. A guru may take you on a full-time journey only to give you part-time pay. What I'm talking about is you may dedicate your life to a guru and this has happened many times. I know people who have gone to a group and have got burnt from being there. They now regret it. They've gone to a Guru full-time. They gave up their life, they went to an ashram. They devoted their life there and then they realized I didn't get anything from there. There's countless books also of people who fall out of favor with their Guru because they see what's happening close up with the guru and they realize it's not what seems to be. The image is more important rather than what is the truth is less important. I've seen when people have given up their life, they've gone to a place, given up their life savings and then realized that that place wasn't for them, that it didn't give them anything. And you've got to then think it could be your own intention that you were looking for something, but then you got sidetracked. There's that possibility that the Guru was genuine, but you got sidetracked into more of the admin side or the business side of things, the organizational side of things, and then forgot about the spiritual. Then you just use the Guru for your entertainment of your ego rather than to eliminate your ego. The other thing that you'll find is the part-time result will be that you gain some spiritual insight, but it didn't take you far enough. Whenever you wanted something deeper, the Guru tell you to do something else. That was totally opposite. They get you involved in the admin side or they get you involved in the ritualistic side. They will tell you do this ritual, do that ritual. It's like the carrot and the stick, you got a donkey and you put the carrot in front of them on a stick and they keep walking ahead thinking when I walk ahead, I'm going to get the carrot and you see that the carrot on the stick is still dangling in front of them. Are we a seeker like that? That we're just frankly donkeys who has a carrot and stick in front of them and thinking that we're going somewhere, we're going to get the carrot, but we never will. I'm being very frank and honest. If you really want a Guru, you've got to be ready. I think is less about the guru and more about you, more about me. That's why it's really important to understand whether you want a Guru for entertainment or for real spiritual growth. The other thing about guru for entertainment is they tend to be the more popular ones. I say this because, and I'm going to go into this later in the second part of this. When they're popular, you have to now think about the Guru's intention now. Is their intention to get more popular? They want to engage the masses in spiritual growth, but really it's just about lining their pockets. The reason why I say this is because there are lots of gurus now that are very popular, thanks to the growth of social media, that they are not really giving anything spiritually. They give the, like I said, face value they're giving something spiritually, but they just want you to be engaged in their charisma and the personality rather than the truth. They may tell you that meditate on the full moon and you would get this and they'll hold special events on the full moon. But I say this, enlightenment isn't about when you meditate. It's about what happens during the meditation and your intention behind the meditation. Is your intention to understand that there is a oneness between you and Brahman, that actually there isn't a oneness, there just is Brahman. There is just the ultimate reality. Or is the person just saying it because on every full moon you now going to expect to try and be enlightened. Or you may fall under the impression that you are enlightened. But really you haven't got over the ego. This is the thing we have to really analyze and grasp when we're looking at whether we want a Guru of entertainment. These Gurus tend to be popular, they're on social media, they know how to engage the audience there. Their team does a good job of crafting the video. Yet, I know there's one popular guru out there, I'll give you two versions. There's one popular guru out there who is popular in India, but has now gained popularity in the west. In the west, he's engaged with social media personalities. In India, he's engaged with actors, even in the west, he's engaged with actors. Now this one Guru that I'm talking about, isn't really offering anything spiritually to anybody really, but he does give information in a way, which seems to be teaching you something, but all you're gaining is information, not wisdom. I'm not going to mention the names you can probably guess who I am on about. So there's that type and there's many who are following that same sort of business model. Then there's another Guru, again, popular on YouTube. I don't know if they're popular on social media itself, but definitely popular on YouTube, they are in one part of America. They were previously in India, moved to the west coast of America. Now they're in the east coast. Now this person from what I know helps people personally. He keeps a small group despite being popular on YouTube. For me, that person is more honest, the one with the smaller group, yet popular on YouTube. There's nothing wrong with being popular on social media. There's nothing wrong with that. It's about what happens afterwards. With the former, with the person that mentioned that is popular in the East and West, popular on social media as well as YouTube. It's engaged with actors in India and in America, and with social media personalities as well. This person, you gotta question, whether he's there for you individually, will he know you personally? Does he engage with you personally on your spiritual journey? This is what I'm talking about. Yes. It's important that we have gurus that are able to again give the message of enlightenment, of truth, but are they giving you the whole truth and are they being honest about not giving you the whole truth? The person that I'm talking about is popular, the reason why I mention this person is because most of the things they say is copying another guru that they haven't given credit to. In my opinion, he's just there for entertainment. Intentions may have been pure from the beginning. I'm not questioning the intention at the beginning, but sometimes when we get fame and we see that we're getting popular, sometimes that can take us, even though we may be spiritual and had good intentions, frankly, we're all human and we all may fall under that trap. The question is does the Guru want masses or do they want quality disciples? A guru is not there to get popular, it's to gain real disciples. The next section that I'm going to be talking about is finding a guru for growth and I'll give an example of my own guru. My own guru was someone that was looking for quality over quantity and made it very verbal that the organization may have grown but really He wanted quality. He wanted people to go towards enlightenment, to go towards the truth and to work towards the truth. I had a personal relationship with my Guru and I benefited from that especially during tragic times in my life. My Guru was there to stabilize me and to keep me connected to the spiritual aspect. But I don't know if he was there for everybody and whether everyone had that same access. I think my Guru knew that He wasn't able to engage with everybody but with whatever engagement he was able to have, that it's one that could be life-changing for people. There may be popular Gurus but I think eventually they look at quality and those are the genuine ones. Those are the ones that want growth, real spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is more important than popularity growth. It doesn't matter about the views on YouTube, it matters about the view that your disciples have. The view should be towards the highest Truth. The spiritual guru that is there for your growth, they can invest time in you. They're really going to focus on you, they're really gonna think about you as a person. They're really gonna help you in the nuances in spiritual pursuit. There are many roadblocks in spirituality which we find. Now if you have a popular guru that you've been watching on YouTube how are they going to help you with the roadblocks in your spiritual journey? You probably won't be able to find that but a spiritual guru that's there for your growth, that has a small following may be able to give you that help and guidance to get rid of that roadblock, that's stopping you from advancing in your spiritual journey. It's very important to find a Guru that can invest time in you and then the main thing is that they only speak of Brahman, eventually whatever they say brings it back to Brahman, the ultimate reality, the formless reality, the infinite reality that is the main focus of a Guru. That has to be the main message, that's what they have to bring you back to. The seeker has to be serious and if the seeker isn't serious, the guru should be able to have the nerve to say "sorry, this is not for you, this is not the place for you." Basically what I'm trying to say is that the student's growth is more important than the donation the student is giving or the disciple is giving. When you can have a Guru that you know has denied people discipleship and they may be a genuine one, they are few and far between. I know one example that even Ramana Maharshi, it was hard to become his disciple, it wasn't so easy. He wasn't willing to just accept anybody. It was all about whether you were ready for the truth, whether you wanted the truth. You want someone that is going to take their time to accept you and they have to verbally accept you as their disciple. Most likely they are not mainstream, they're not going to be popular. They may have YouTube videos out there, they may have podcasts, they may be writing blogs. They may not have any of that. They may just be in a remote part of the world but they may be really genuine. And somehow I feel that a real seeker always finds the Guru for them. Remember a guru isn't going to be there for all your life. The guru's main job and this is something we have to really understand, that outward respect, outward gratitude towards the Guru is not important compared to understanding what the Guru is pointing to. In fact, the guru at one point, the real genuine ones will show you that the guru is within. The real translation for antaryami is the inner dweller I think I mentioned this in a previous podcast, the inner dweller who is the one that is dwelling within, that is the inner guru. The outer guru is there to show you that. And say okay I've shown you the wisdom. Now this inner guru is going to tell you how to get there. It's going to be your guide now. For me that is really important, when the guru shows you the real truth, the real aspect of truth because when we give respect to guru outwardly, we fall under the cult of personality, it's genuinely what happens. It's not wrong either. It's just the nature of human beings. We really need to consider this when we want to find the right guru for us and we have to really contemplate upon that. Finding the right one, you will know who's right for you. You will know within yourself and you will ask a few disciples what have they gained and see if the disciples are too reliant on the spiritual guru. If they're too reliant then you may want to inquire more into why that is. But the real genuine one will maybe in the initial days because you've got to ask the disciple how long they've been there for. Some spiritual seekers need years and they're reliant on the external guru. Eventually what you will find is that the seekers will tell you well even though we have this external guru, yeah we're grateful for the external guru but they've shown us a higher Truth and we connect to that higher truth. We connect to Brahman or we connect to the inner guru, the internal guru. It's best to look and also look at what the spiritual crowd or the mass has gained. When I say crowd it can be a crowd of two. So look at how much the spiritual seekers have gained and see how much they're connecting to spirituality. And if you can gauge if they're enlightened or not, gauge that. But like I said the real essence of spirituality is eliminating our ego and working upon that because our ego is the biggest barrier between us and the realization that there's only Brahman. We need to really understand this. It is all up to you what you really want. If you're happy worshiping the external guru, finding a popular guru and saying that you're a disciple of theirs and that gives you some clout. Or you follow a popular guru because they speak good on YouTube or social media. That's all nice and good. But what you really want to look at is whether they're engaging you for the higher truth and they're motivating you to seek that inner truth. The one that is able to show you that Brahman only is and that this world is just an appearance, it's just a transactional reality that the body and mind has to engage with. In my opinion, a guru is completely non dual. So they will be completely in the advaita perspective. It can be of any tradition but they will be completely non dual and that's been my experience. My experience has been that the Guru will always point you towards the highest Truth. My Guru did the same for me. My Guru told me just to connect to the highest truth, that's all I've done and that's all I stuck to. Yes, one can have a relationship with the guru. We may want to help the guru. Ultimately we want to find the one that can get us to enlightenment and is engaged in our spiritual journey. Another thing I want to mention, you want to also engage with people that are on the journey. For example, they may not be enlightened but they've gone through certain roadblocks and this is why if the guru has a good amount of disciples around them and has really engaged disciples, those disciples can really help you and they can be your guides in terms of advancing spiritually. They can tell you about the roadblocks they faced doing a certain meditation or when they're trying to connect to the higher truth, how they've been able to internalize it. They're able to help you with that. Sometimes, a Guru who may not have time and therefore guides disciples to be there for each other. You know the Sangha, the satsang to guide each other because the Guru will point that the Guru is within each disciple, there is that aspect aswell which we can engage with. It's important to have a Guru but you want to have guides as well, which can help you because it may not be that the guru can be there for you every day but the guide can be because they're living a life like you are. They're living in the world, they're facing the trivial aspects of the world, they're also dealing with it. They can help you, that's important for me. To conclude this whole topic, you have to find the right Guru for you. If you're looking for entertainment, find that Guru for you. There's nothing wrong with that and don't let anyone think that is wrong. For me, it's not the maximum use of a Guru but that's your choice and you're allowed to make that choice. But if you want someone that is going to really engage with your spirituality, you have to also invest that time to look for them. And by looking for them, there's two parts to that. One - you have to physically look. Maybe that you have to look on YouTube or you may have to look on social media. That's our way of engaging with the world today. Or it may be that you travel somewhere. The second part is working on the truth within. If you've heard a Guru on YouTube but internalizing the message and really thinking about the message. Or reading books of that Guru or reading books on many gurus and seeing which one works for you. For me, it doesn't matter if a guru is dead or alive who can help you. The main thing is a living guru or a guru that has died, if they're not going to take you to the inner dwelling guru, the inner guru, there's no real growth that's going to occur. You want to go to that guru that will take you to the inner guru, who would then guide you to the higher aspects of spiritual pursuit, who will engage with you on gaining the understanding and realization of Brahman. Because there's one thing to listen to the message and then there's another thing to act upon the message. The whole point of being a seeker is to act upon the message. I lay more emphasis on my own pursuit, my own engagement rather than what the Guru is doing. That is more important for me like how am I doing? Is it more important for me that I'm just listening to a guru and just listening to them talk and thinking "oh yes I'm gaining something"? Or is this something I'm thinking about and engaging with properly in terms of thinking how am I going to practice this? How am I learning from this? Is this something new? If it's something old, why didn't I engage with it before? And now how am I going to engage with it? And how's it going to facilitate my growth? And is it logic and rational today? Use that and also use the aids of the spiritual texts. They also help in finding the right guru for you. Just be a real seeker and the Guru will appear for you. Or a guide will appear, not everyone is willing to be a guru. Some people just like to guide you and tell you to follow your own path. Those tend to be the mystics of the world. They don't really want a following. When you're a real seeker, I have trust that you will get to enlightenment in no time. If it's through a Guru, you will find the Guru. If it's through a spiritual text, you will find it through a spiritual text or a book that is written by a guru or a transcription of their talks. You'll find it. Find your way that will take you to Brahman to the Non-Dual Ultimate Reality. Thank you for listening to this episode of The Bearded Mystic Podcast, please do remember to follow or subscribe to this channel and do leave a review for this podcast. I'd really appreciate knowing what you think. You can follow me on social media and I will leave the links below to each of those accounts. I do share small clips on there that you can share with friends and family. And if you feel that anyone in your friends and family circle would love this podcast do share it with them. A new episode is uploaded every Sunday and Thursday until next time, take care. See you again soon.