What is a guru? What is a spiritual leader? Who’s yours? Do you have one? Do you want one? Do you need one?
I meet mine all the time.
A guru is someone who teaches spiritual truths, a spiritual leader, someone we learn spiritual truths from. A typical portrayal of a guru is a venerable Asian person, either man or woman, wrapped in a cloth, sitting on an elevated chair or throne, dispensing wisdom pearls either through a discourse or in response to questions. Typically, they are surrounded by acolytes and seekers, all of whom are looking to find something through their guru’s special radiance, something they haven’t been able to find or maintain in themselves, like peacefulness, bliss or serenity. They sometimes find it in their guru’s presence, and then lose it again when they re-enter planet earth.
There is another way to find your spiritual truths.
First, what is the most important spiritual truth? Is it knowledge, insight, wisdom?
Or is there a more fundamental one, highlighted repeatedly by gurus and teachers everywhere, namely Loving Kindness & Compassion?
If this is the deepest spiritual truth, what more do you need to know?
Secondly, where are you going to find it? We’ve all heard the old saying ‘the answer lies within’.
What if it really does?
What if what we’re seeking is actually inside us all along, all the time, always? What if we always know what to do, even if we think we don’t? What if it’s just a question of looking inside in the right way? What if it’s more a question of feeling inside and receiving the message, even if it’s uncomfortable, not what we want to hear, and not what we like?
What if no one else can do it for us?
What if we have to do it ourselves?
What if we can find it whenever we look inside in the right way?
Thirdly, if the deepest spiritual truth is Loving Kindness & Compassion ,what else do you need to know?
If you already know this deepest truth, what is more information other than distracting entertaining brain-food, an avoidance of actually doing the work?
If you already know what to do, what is more important than doing it? Isn’t the doing of it as a diligent daily practice, the most important truth of all?
I’ve come to follow this approach for many years now. Once I realised it’s all about Loving Kindness & Compassion, I realised the most important thing to do is to keep filling as much of my life with it as possible. Everything else is secondary. Yes, I love my laughter yoga, my mindfulness, my ‘be here now’, my healing, my breathing techniques, but the main focus is Loving Kindness & Compassion.
I am aware, every day, how much more I have to do. I am a work in progress. Every day I fail constantly and am judgemental, unkind, and critical. I’m a daily failure. Fortunately I’ve trained myself not to focus on my failures but to focus on my expanding Loving Kindness & Compassion, and I use every opportunity I can to help me, because I need all the help I can find.
I need my guru, my spiritual teacher, badly. Happily, I’ve come to realise the truth in the saying ‘if you know how to listen, everyone is your guru’. I’ve become aware how everyone I meet, however casually, is an opportunity to practice Loving Kindness & Compassion. Everyone I meet is an opportunity to extend Loving Kindness & Compassion, whoever they are. Whether they’re teenagers being truculent, politicians telling lies, people being casually rude and unkind, they are all my teachers, my gurus. This is especially true when I feel the sting of irritation because they are doing me the service of highlighting my need for further practice. They benefit too because I make a point of extending Loving Kindness & Compassion to them, so they’ve helped me and I’ve helped them, aka win/win.
I now have many gurus, and I find them everywhere every day. I hope from now on you do too.