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Chapter 6

Devotion to the Guru

Chapter 8

What is "Guru Bhakti" and how is it to be practiced?

Devotion to the Master is called Guru Bhakti. But that is a very high form of Bhakti. It is the highest one, I would say, because it is very difficult. Anything that is very difficult should be supreme. God is supreme because He is so difficult to achieve; if you could easily see Him everywhere, you would probably just say, "I'll take care of You later on. Wait while I finish my card game and then I'll come to You." As the saying goes, "Familiarity breeds contempt." But God is very "dear" to achieve, so He becomes our "Dear."

So the devotion shown to one's own Master is really difficult and that is why it is supreme. Why do I say it is difficult? Because you constantly have to prove yourself to be a true disciple. You can easily act like a true disciple in front of an idol. You can go with some offering, put it there, kneel and pray while your mind is wandering around in the circus or cinema. You may stand in front of the altar and say, "Oh, Lord in the Heaven, I am Thine, all is Thine, Thy will be done," and the idol will just be standing there watching you. It won't say, "Hey, what are you doing? Are you praying or looking at the girl next to you?" A Guru will immediately question you. You can even sit in front of a Deity in the name of meditation and fall asleep. The symbol or picture on the altar will just be there; he won't pull your hair and say, "Hey, what are you doing? Shape up! Either sit and meditate properly or go out and do something else." But if you sit in front of a Master and meditate, he will keep an eye on you. He may also appear to be meditating, but he will be meditating on you. You meditate on him and he meditates on you. So you have to prove yourself to be sincere - you can't escape from that.

Another thing is that the statue is always the same; there's never any change in it. Whenever you come you see the same statue. It is more or less eternal - it's always God to you. But it's not so in the case of the Guru. One day he will appear to be the great teacher, the great Master, the Self—realized soul; the next day he will be like a playboy; third day he will appear half-loose; and the fourth day like a stingy man shouting at you over a dime. You might wonder, "What is this? Is this realization? I wasted ten cents but he's shouting at me for fifteen minutes. He says money is nothing; I should renounce all these things, but for ten cents he's shouting at me. Can he be a Guru?"

Or sometimes he will ask you to get up at four or five a.m. for meditation, but when you knock at his door he might be sleeping even at eight o'clock. "My goodness, what is this Guru business then?" So it is very difficult to have devotion to your Guru because you see his human side. He is still a human being — otherwise he wouldn't be here in your midst. He has a human body; he behaves like a human being in many ways. People think if someone is a Guru he will always be flying in the air. No, he has his body and mind. You don't always see the divine aspects. Sometimes he might even look like a devil or a crazy mad fellow. He's a mixture of everything.

Also, the Guru won't always conform to your expectations of him. You may have your own imaginations about how a Guru should be. Somehow what we read in the books seems to be something different. At least in the ancient books they always have the Guru sitting in Lotus Posture with eyes closed in Samadhi. And particularly in the case of a monk or Sannyasi, he should embrace "poverty." He should have just an old broken clay bowl to eat from, some rags to wear. He won't even have a comb, so his hair will be all matted.., he will be sleeping in a small hut somewhere. See? Each one has his own imagination about the Guru. Some may say, "If he's a Yogi, why should his beard be turning white? Can't he stop it?" People even ask that. "Do you sleep? Do you use pillows? Do you sleep on a bed of nails? We hear you sometimes drink nitric acid..." So it's not possible to live up to your expectations. That is the problem with Guru worship.

Because Guru worship is very difficult, it is placed above all the other forms of worship. According to the Hindu tradition, there are six ways of worshipping the Absolute through different names and forms. If you worship the Lord as Shiva — Shiva means all—pure — you are called a Shaivite. If you worship Him as Vishnu - Vishnu means omnipresent - you are a Vaishnavite. If you worship God as all-powerful, as the Goddess Para Shakti, you are called a Shakta. Others worship the Lord as all-intelligence, big-headed intelligence, in the form of the elephant-headed Lord Ganesh - they are called Gaanaapatyam. And still another group worships the Lord as ever-young and beautiful — as Kumar or Subramanya or Muruga. And the last group says, "These others are all somehow connected with human forms. Instead let us worship God as the Light. The light we can see everyday is the sun. So let's worship the Lord as the sun." And they are called Sauravas. These are the six traditional forms.

But worship of the Guru is called "Samayaadeeta." That means "transcending the six." Why? Because it is the most difficult. Shiva is always Shiva for you. Vishnu is always Vishnu. If you go in front of Vishnu and sing "Om Narayana, Om Narayana" and fall asleep, Narayana (Vishnu) is not going to come and pinch you. But if you do that in front of a Guru he will question, "What are you doing, meditating or sleeping?" And if you go in front of a Deity's picture, you can offer anything you want, sometimes ripe bananas, sometimes rotten bananas; the Deity never worries about that. But the Guru demands your work to be perfect. If it is n't, he questions you.

It is rather difficult to please the Guru. He's not always lovable and sweet to you. Sometimes you may even feel, "What destiny brought me to this crazy person?" You will feel like jumping out of the fire. The Guru is a cook, but sometimes you may think he's a crook! When he really burns you a lot you may think, "Is he mad? He can't be Divine; he doesn't even seem to care! My mama and papa never treated me like this. None of my friends would treat me like this. Who is this fellow? Why am I here?"

But if you are wise, you will say, "Oh no, if I jump out, I won't get well cooked." When the fritter is put in the boiling oil, it is put in to get fried. However much noise it makes it has to stay in the oil. Until you are well roasted, the Guru will keep the lid down on the pot. He will say, "Don't come out. Wait." With all that if you jump Out, what will happen? You will land in the fire. If you want yourself to be useful to humanity, you should get yourself well fried.

There are so many incidents to distrub your faith. But with all that if you say, "Well, I don't know. He must have a purpose behind it. He is my Master. I have full trust, implicit faith in him. I'm not here to question or judge him, I'm here to be trained by him," that is true devotion. You have to allow yourself to be in his hands. Some people don't have the patience. They think the Guru should always pamper them and say, "Oh, you are brilliant, beautiful. Hey, everybody, look at my disciple!" He may even say that sometimes, but then if he sees your ego swelling a little bit, he'll say, "Hey get out, you dirty fellow!" One time he'll praise you, then immediately he will crush you. It's necessary. He had to go through all this before with his teacher.

But it's not that easy. That is why people keep on changing Gurus. If he is very nice to you, you say, "Oh, he is my Master; he loves me so much. He is always nice to me..." If he doesn't look at you for a few days: "I must think of which other Guru will be more loving and dear to me..." So the Guru is at you constantly and very often your faith is shaken. But if you are going to keep on with the same faith even in the face of all these obstacles, why can't we say Guru Bhakti is the highest form of devotion?

If anyone has that faith, he is really fortunate. He is probably even better than the Guru himself. He is fit to get all because of his faith. He can learn more from the Guru than even the Guru knows because his faith itself acts as his Guru then. The faith is God after all - that's why the Bible says if you have even the faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. But if that is shaken, even if your Guru is God Himself, you won't receive anything because there is no communication.

Faith is the greatest virtue and doubt the worst thing. Remember these two. If a little doubt gets into your life, the entire life is poisoned. On the other hand, with just a little faith, the entire life will grow beautifully. But in this intellectual age we say, "Oh, how can I have faith in the Guru unless I know for certain what he is? You can't know, you can't judge intellectually, but you can feel. The heart is the same with everybody, so go according to your feeling. Use your intelligence but don't always rely on that. Intelligence has its limitations, but if it works together with the heart it will be really wonderful.