On Saturday our Sathya Sai Baba group had a presentation for Guru Purnima, a day like father’s day, set aside to reflect on and honor the guru in our lives. (Here is a very detailed essay on the details of the holiday and its meaning).
A young woman in our group put together a lovely slideshow encouraging us to discuss such questions as do we need a guru (I’ve asked that before!), how do we find a guru, what do we do once we have a guru.
It was nice to get different people’s thoughts on these questions. Many felt that though the true guru is within your own heart, it is still a good idea to have an external guru who can help you hear that inner voice.
In terms of finding a guru, one person said something that was fresh to me. He suggested formulating a question. Go into the world knowing what question you are asking so that the correct guru can appear for you. If you have a science question, you ask a scientist, not a novelist. In the same way, you need to know what it is you want to know so that you’ll recognize it when you get an answer.
Someone else brought up the idea I’ve heard before that your devotion and sincerity is more important than the authenticity of the guru. I can understand this thought, that if you show love and devotion to a corrupt guru, you will still be purifying your soul. But it’s also a rather dangerous idea. It makes me think of the Nazi soldiers who followed orders without question. I’m not sure it’s okay to let them off the hook that easily. That, I think, is a discussion for another time!
We also got to watch some video footage of Sathya Sai Baba. What really struck me as I watched the video was the sincerity, longing, and love on the faces of the devotees. I saw that reflected in myself and the people sitting in the room with me too. All of us seekers have this exact same desire: to find and understand Truth. I felt so connected in that moment to Hindus everywhere.
From what I understand, Guru Purnima was originally a celebration of the birthday of Vyasa, a legendary guru and storyteller who is said to have created The Mahahbharata as well as codifying the Vedas.
The prayer to say on this day is:
Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo, Maheshwaraha
Guru Sakshat, Para Brahma, Tasmai Sri, Guruve Namaha
The devotees of Sathya Sai Baba see him as God. They call him Bhagawan and say, “How lucky are we that God himself is our guru?” I don’t feel quite like a part of the group yet because of my difficulty accepting gurus. I will say, though, that I will see Sai Baba as God in the same way that I see myself and all those I interact with as God!
So Guru devotion is still a difficult thing for me. In some ways I feel like I’m moving backwards, since devotion and adoration came so easily to me as a child and teenager. But Krishna says nothing is ever lost. So I think my struggle to surrender to a guru or any kind of master is a step along the way of my spiritual progression and will eventually be worked out and overcome.