I regularly receive many questions about spirituality. I decided to answer them through this FAQ section in simple terms:
Q: Is the physical guru or human teacher more important than the scriptures?
A: No, because the physical guru, even one of the highest quality, is farther from you. The closest one to you is your own Self, next the scriptures and lastly the external guru. This has to do with the four levels of speech. The Self is situated in the deepest speech level, the scriptures in the next one and the external guru (the one endowed with body) in the two final levels consisting of mind and physical body.
The real Guru is neither a human being endowed with a certain body, nationality, etc. nor is a scripture full of sacred knowledge. Not at all. Guru is one of the five acts performed by the Supreme Self. The first three acts are manifestation, maintenance and withdrawal of the universe. The fourth one is concealment of His essential nature, i.e. after manifesting all these beings, He conceals His own nature in all of them and bondage arises. This bondage is removed by His fifth act called Grace. This is the real Guru.
A: Not completely, because Guru is egoless while human guru has ego. In order to function in this world, all human beings must have ego even if they were thoroughly enlightened or liberated while living. Hence, a human guru is never Guru totally. A better way to describe it would be stating that Guru works through guru by using him as a kind of channel for His Grace. In this sense, no human being is doing anything in the end, because the process of bestowing Grace is always carried out by Guru. The only duty of guru would be to be available for Guru to accomplish His task through him. The less guru does the more Guru will do as far as Grace bestowal is concerned.
Q: Why did you say that?
A: Because formally there are four ways to bestow Grace on someone: glance, touch, thought and mantra. In other words, the Power of the Self can be activated in you through the glance, touch or thought of guru. Or It can even be activated through a mantra that the guru gives for you to repeat. Those are the formal ways to bestow Grace on someone. Liberation from bondage cannot be complete if the Power of the Self is not activated in oneself. As the Power of the Self brings about bondage, It also removes this bondage by mixing Grace with Itself in a very mysterious manner. It’s a mystery because it is not in the arena of mind. No human mind can understand the way the Guru mixes His Grace with the Power of the Self in order to grant a person Final Liberation. Not even human guru can understand Him completely either… and there is no need for him to do so. Why? Because He is Supreme and egoless. What is egoless cannot be fully understood by what is endowed with ego. Consequently, beyond those four formal manners to bestow Grace, the best method is the spontaneous one, viz. guru goes somewhere and the Guru bestows Grace through him on deserving people without the guru having to do anything except taking his physical body to that place. That is why I said that the less a guru does, the more the Guru will do.
Q: But I thought that one who is liberated while living could understand everything about Guru.
A: That is not possible because of the physical body. In order for a liberated person to fully understand Him, His Grace bestowal on such person must be maximum, so the body would be discarded in the process. If he retains the body, the intensity of Grace bestowal is not maximum and hence his understanding of Guru is not complete yet. Finally, when he leaves the body at the time of death, his trance will be fullest. For this reason, when a high-souled one leaves his body, that is called great trance and never “a loss” as in the case of ordinary people.
Summing it up: When the intensity of Grace bestowal is maximum, the liberated one will be forced to discard his physical body. When it is not maximum, he will retain his physical body.
Q: Are there different categories of liberated ones?
A: Yes. Among the ones who retain their physical bodies, he is the most elevated who does not need any external guru (a guru endowed with a physical body) for attaining Liberation. He can achieve it on his own. Of course, a lot of spiritual aspirants imagine that they will be able to attain that on their own, but this is mere imagination. As a matter of fact, almost all of them will need an external guru to do so, and even in this case they will achieve Liberation after going through enormous difficulties.
After that, there is a liberated one who attained Freedom from bondage through initiation by an external guru. But he needed external guru only once, to receive initiation. Only a little “push” and the rest is up to him. This category of aspirant is extremely rare, obviously, because the remaining categories are completely dependent on the external guru for less or more time during the spiritual path, from aspirants that only see the guru now and then to those visiting him very frequently for instructions. The more dependent an aspirant, the lower his quality. In general, aspirants in this world are of very low quality and therefore the importance of a physical guru is always high.
Q: Why do those aspirants need a human guru endowed with physical body?
A: Because they cannot understand the instructions of their Self. They cannot even understand the instructions of the scriptures. Consequently, Guru appears before them as a human guru so that in the future they would be capable to understand the scriptures and the Self. If the aspirants could fully understand at least the scriptures from the start, there would be no necessity of a human guru at all. But they cannot understand them in the vast majority of the cases. Of course, they cannot understand their Self either. So, the importance of the human guru increases. But this doesn’t happen in the case of an aspirant who is of high quality because at most he will need a human guru only once, to receive his initiation into the spiritual path.
Q: Is learning Sanskrit indispensable in order to understand the scriptures composed in that language?
A: No. Anyway, knowing Sanskrit really becomes very useful as you advance in your studies. You can understand the essence of the scriptures through a proficient guru who takes the trouble to explain them to you. But, if you know Sanskrit you can advance faster. Of course, learning Sanskrit will take time and, in this sense, it is not intended for people who are “in a hurry”.
Q: Why does one advance faster?
A: Because the scripture is apprehended from its origin. It is very difficult to explain this. For example, when I read some paragraph of a particular scripture translated by some author (including me), the translation always falls short. Why? Because even if the author had taken the trouble to explain all in detail, there is nothing comparable to reading the same paragraph in Sanskrit directly. There are many subtle teachings interwoven into the scripture itself which are obvious to someone who is conversant with Sanskrit, but the not so obvious when one reads the same text in English, Spanish or any other vulgar language, even if the translator had taken considerable pains to explain everything in detail. I am not promoting Sanskrit courses at all because, in the first place, at this time or in the near future I am not giving any Sanskrit course offline or online, except in the form of all the content I publish for free on my website. I am not interested in making money from teaching Sanskrit or anything related to it at all. The ones who are very interested in making money from that which is extremely sacred are always wretched people (they lack His Grace) who won’t attain real Liberation. They get a lot of money but not His Grace, hence they are beggars anyway. I am not like this and giving Sanskrit knowledge online for free for over twelve years proves my statement.
Q: Does that mean that nobody can make money from teaching Sanskrit?
A: No, obviously, because the guru can charge his disciples for the great effort of teaching them. But to have an entire organization mounted on making money from teaching Sanskrit or any other thing related to it (e.g. philosophies in Sanskrit) is simply contradictory.
Q: Why is it contradictory?
A: Because, in the first place, if someone is a genuine guru he is in contact with Guru. If he is in contact with Guru, the latter subdues him. How can one be subdued by Guru and at the same time greedy for money? That is not possible. Besides, attachment to money implies more bondage and this is contradictory with the state of Liberation. One cannot be friend of the sun and fear the moon. If one says that the sun is backing him up, what is his problem with the moon? This constant contradiction is never understood by aspirants despite being pretty obvious.
Q: Why “subdued” by Guru?
A: Because that is what literally occurs with someone endowed with real guruhood. When someone is not overpowered by Guru, he is overpowered by the universe appearing in the form of the mind, the multiple objects and so on. If one is a true guru, he first had to be overpowered by Guru. Before being subdued by Guru, he also had to undergo spooky experiences during his spiritual path. He could not have gone through all that without being a warrior. If he is quite a warrior, how could he be worried about money? Since the human ego is crazy and extremely contradictory, anything is possible. But Guru can easily subdue the human ego, because He is the Divine. Again, how could a guru be subdued by Guru and at the same time be afraid of money matters? This can’t happen.
Fear is in the very core of all human egos. This is no surprise. Even the human guru has ego too. But as he is overpowered by Guru as far as spiritual tasks are concerned, he should not be afraid of anything getting in his way of being a guru. If he is still afraid, he is not a genuine guru and that is it.
If someone says that he is the ambassador of a world power, he will not be undertaking a donation tour to gather funds for building the embassy. That does not happen at all because the world power will give him the necessary money to perform his duty as an ambassador. If he has to ask for money like a beggar, the world power backing him up really is an extremely poor country instead. In the same way, if a guru has to charge his disciples a real fortune in order to get the money to continue his spiritual task, or if he has to be asking for constant donations, he is not a genuine guru. This is so obvious that most people still cannot get it. What is obvious is hardly noticed in this world.
Guru is so powerful that He can dispel the all-mighty spiritual ignorance in a trice but at the same time, he cannot get enough money to pay taxes, bills, etc. at the community of a guru. This is ridiculous! If such a thing happens, then Guru does not approve of that community and the guru should close it and move somewhere else. When Guru “wants” something to flourish, He will give all that is needed for that to flourish. There should not be any doubt about it. When He wants something, all the processes happen automatically in order to fulfill His wishes. This is because He is the Master of all the powers and always unobstructed. If He does not want to do something, nobody can force Him to do that. A guru in contact with Guru should not doubt His Power then. He should act in accordance with his conviction which is in his case supported by evidence.
Q: But spiritual communities have many expenses, you know.
A: If Guru is backing up a guru, nothing will get in his way as a spiritual teacher. This is extremely obvious. Even if the very sun wants to get in his way, it will be pushed aside by force. Guru is the Supreme Self bestowing Grace. Who or what could get in His way then? As you see, the entire question about a guru being the representative of Guru on the earth and at the same time desperately looking to make money or asking for donations is completely irrelevant. People mostly speak about the world or life as an opposing force, but that is not true in the case of guru backed up by Guru. There is nothing at all that can become an obstacle to Guru, ever. The only duty of a guru is to remain available for Guru. Someone could ask: “Why does Guru need a guru?” It is not about necessity but about the way He designed His Play. In this Play, the vast majority of aspirants have to make efforts in order to gain their Liberation. Yes, Guru could liberate all people simultaneously too, but this would break the rules of His Play. There is no democracy with Guru because He is Supreme. When people try to establish a democracy with Guru, they find it difficult to understand His ways.
Q: Is He like a dictator?
A: He is the Master of all. He can be everybody and at the same time be different from everybody. He can dwell in everybody as their soul and at the same time live in a remote place. He is all-mighty in the truest sense of word. Do not try to understand Him with an ordinary mind because it is not possible. In His Play, He assumes the form of people in bondage along with the form of a guru who is ready to grant them Liberation. This is His Play and one should worship Him so. Ego says, “But why is this Play like this? Why is it not like that?” He is ego too. He is so free that He is able to argue with Himself about His own Play. No mind can understand this. So, do not try to understand it by using your mind and just accept the rules of His Play. This pleases Him a lot and makes Him give blessing to you. And yes, you are Him too, paradoxically. There is no way of understanding Him by the mind, because the latter is an invention of His own Power.
So, a guru knows everything I’ve stated above. Therefore, a guru cannot behave like a beggar when it comes to carrying out His wishes. While presence of fear is permitted in the little private life of guru, because he still retains a human body and so many things can damage it, he should be fearless when acting as His ambassador on this earth. This is so obvious, but the vast majority of human guru-s cannot cope with the task of being spiritually fearless. If they cannot do that, they should not be guru-s then. The question about guru-s being half-guru-s is as endless as spiritual ignorance, I can understand that perfectly.
A human guru first has to be liberated while living. Not all liberated ones become be guru-s, but rather most of them will continue their usual lives. If a guru is liberated while living, he has to fully realize his own Self. Guru is one of the five aspects of this Self, as I mentioned above. If he experiences Him at every moment, how could he be worried about trifles like money, expenses, life, death, etc.? Guru roars and the entire universe trembles in terror, Guru becomes sweet and He is the very embodiment of Sweetness, Guru speaks and all minds become silent, Guru looks and you cannot tolerate His Love, Guru embraces you and your individuality is gone. So, how could a genuine guru think about ephemeral things when He is here nourishing him with I-consciousness and divine Bliss? Not even the mind can move in His presence, then how is guru going to think about this or that? And how could guru play a different role other than that of guru when Guru reveals Himself to him in all His Splendor and Glory? Who will be able to return to ignorance once His divine Form appears before him? Even if guru works his entire life serving Guru, how will he repay his debt to Him, the Supreme Self, the Owner of all, the One who everybody looks for and very few find?
My reverence to Guru who emerges in a guru just like a tree emerges from a seed. May Your Branches of Wisdom touch the hearts of everybody!