“Guru is a four letter word”

Yesterday, I had a double guru experience. My son was home sick, so I couldn’t work. Instead, I finished watching a documentary called Kumare.

kumare

Here is the synopsis of Kumare:

“A provocative social experiment-turned-documentary, KUMARE follows American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi as he transforms himself into a wise Indian guru, hoping to prove the absurdity of blind faith. Instead, he finds himself forging profound connections with people from all walks of life — and wondering if and when to reveal his true self. Will his followers accept his final teaching? Can this illusion reveal a greater spiritual truth? Winner of South by Southwest’s Audience Award, KUMARE is an insightful look at faith and belief.

Watching this film simultaneously engendered doubts about gurus and inspired me to the spiritual powers of ordinary humans. Vikram Gandhi sets out to pose as a guru, but ends up transforming others lives, as well as his own, in the process. Still, I felt a bit jaded.

Then last night, I attended a Conversation on Compassion at Stanford University. A guru I had never heard about named Sadhguru eradicated any doubts I had about spiritual leaders, enlightenment, or gurus.

sadhguru at Stanford

Interestingly enough, Sadhguru started the talk by explaining how he entered spirituality as a skeptic, much like Vikram Gandhi.

“Even if one has the wrong intentions, but travels the right path, one will find the truth.”

Sadhguru acknowledged the skepticism around gurus: “Guru is a four letter work.” He explained that a guru is merely a “live roadmap,” not meant to be worshiped. He also assured everyone that when we are dealing with what is inside us, no one is better than anyone else. We might be in better physical shape than others or more intelligent, but when we look inside, we are all the same.

What most impressed me about Sadhguru was his insistence on serving others (although he didn’t see it as service since we are all one).

“If we do not do what we can do that is a disastrous life.”

“If your heart is full of love, then you can never do enough.”

Hearing these statements, I immediately thought about Rarasaur. It is my duty to help Rara. I will continue to send letters, love, and what money I can afford to help her out.

I hate to personalize this guru juxtaposition, but I couldn’t help but see it as a call and response. I started the day with some doubts, yet within hours those doubts were quickly abated. Part of me feels like I was calling on the Universe to show me a sign, and almost immediately the Universe answered. Coincidence? Serendipity? Destiny? It really doesn’t matter, because I’m a believer.

Do you believe in destiny, serendipity, or fate? Please share.

 

Free Hugs: Hug for Freedom

Mother Teresa quote

This post is in response the Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: “tell us about a moment when your life changed in a split second.”

In my younger days, if I were at the trial of Jesus, I would have probably voted with the rest of the crowd to crucify him. I used to be such a judgmental and closed minded person, which is probably why in 1999 all my traveling companions abandoned me in Sri Lanka, a small island formerly known as the Island of Serendipity off the southern coast of India.

Luckily, right before they abandoned me I had just finished a week long meditation retreat; otherwise, I might have struck them down “with great vengeance and furious anger” Pulp Fiction style. At the retreat an experienced meditator whom other guests called the “sitting one” said that I needed to go to India to get a hug from a guru named Amma. Continue reading

Cross Walk Guru: James 1:2-4

buddha statue with hand upcross walk sign

Sometimes the smallest incidents reveal the deepest secrets. I was standing at the cross walk in front of our condo with my two sons in a double stroller, when a woman walked up and pressed the button to cross the street, “beep.” I had already pushed the button before she arrived, but I just smiled and waited for the light to change. “Beep, beep,” again the same woman pressed the button twice more. When the light did not change, she went in for another round, “beep, beep.” I could tell that she was getting upset that her desire to cross the street was not instantly gratified. In my younger days, I would have said, “you know, it’s on a timer don’t you. You can press it until it plays Mozart, but the light will not change any faster.” Instead, I just watched the light for crossing traffic turn yellow, then red. Then the left turn light lit up, but still the disembodied red hand mocked us from across the 4 lane expressway. “Beep,” the woman poked the button one last time in anger.

After dropping my kids off at school, I returned to the same cross walk. “Beep,” I pressed the button. I started to think about how much work I had to do at home after I cleaned up the breakfast dishes. “Beep,” I unconsciously pressed the button again. Have you ever done this? Why do we do this? Continue reading

The Divorce Guru

A close friend of mine is going through a nasty divorce. He has two beautiful kids, so a lot is at stake. His wife’s lawyer is falsifying dates in order to get his client alimony for the rest of her life. My friend is upset that if the ruling goes against him he will be paying a large chunk of his hard-earned money to his lawyer, his wife’s lawyer, his wife, and a bunch of other people who have no interest in the welfare of his children. I remember an English Professor in graduate school once told me that you never recover psychologically nor financially from a divorce. I hate to believe that this is true, but I’ve never been divorced so I cannot speak from experience. What I have experienced, however, is how gurus treat different disciples differently. Some disciples are treated like first-born children–they never leave the guru’s side; they receive constant nurturing. Other disciples are treated like red-headed step-children–they are expected to clean the latrines, instructed to meditate in caves, or encouraged to go on missions or pilgrimages. The great gurus know exactly what the disciple needs to attain enlightenment. Could it be that divorce is an everyday guru that is giving certain individuals exactly what they need?

Continue reading