Having a teacher to guide us in any field is invaluable. This is true in Spirituality as well. As Spirituality is subtle or intangible in nature, it is difficult to identify with certainty who is a spiritually evolved guide or Guru. A Guru is very different to a teacher or a preacher. He is a beacon of spiritual light in our world, and teaches us the universal spiritual principles that underlie all religions and cultures. This article expands on His characteristics and salient features.
What if children were told to educate themselves in modern sciences without any teacher or any access to prior knowledge gained over centuries? What if we had to reinvent the wheel in every walk of life, without having access to knowledge that was already available from authorities in the field? If this were the case, we would spend a lifetime trying to educate ourselves without making much headway or perhaps even going down a wrong path.
Universal mind and intellect: Just as God’s creation such as humans, animals etc. have a mind and intellect, so does God’s entire creations, the Universe has a Universal Mind and Intellect which contains absolutely genuine information of all things in the Universe. It can be thought of as God’s Mind and Intellect. As one progresses spiritually one’s subtle mind and intellect merge with the Universal Mind and Intellect and thus that is how one is able to access information about the whole of God’s creation.
In the same way, a guide is very much required in our spiritual journey too. It stands to reason that a guide in any field needs to be an authority in that particular field. According to Spiritual science a person who is an authority in the field of Spirituality is known as a Guru.
There is a saying that in the kingdom of the blind the seeing man is a king. With a highly activated sixth sense, the Guru is the totally ‘seeing’ person in the kingdom of the spiritually blind and ignorant. He is someone who has already walked the spiritual road under the guidance of his Spiritual Guide, and has access to the Universal Mind and Intellect. In this article, we will explain who can be considered a Spiritual Guide or a Guru and His characteristics.
2. Definition of a Guru or an evolved spiritual guide
There are various aspects to the Supreme God Principle. These various aspects of God perform specific functions in the Universe. This is pretty much akin to the government of any country which has various departments to facilitate the smooth governing and functioning of the country as a whole.
Just as we have a department for education in a government, which facilitates teaching of modern sciences throughout the country, the aspect of God that looks after spiritual teaching and spiritual growth in the Universe is known as the Guru. This is known as the unseen or unmanifest (nirguṇ) Guru or the Teaching Principle of God. The unmanifest Guru pervades the entire Universe and is with us at all times during our life and even after we die. The salient and highlighting feature is that the unmanifest Guru stands by us throughout our life and slowly lifts us from our worldly life into a spiritual way of life. The Guru guides us according to our spiritual level, i.e. our capacity to imbibe knowledge whether we know it or not, helping us develop skills such as perseverance, dedication, attention to detail, tenacity, compassion etc. through our lives. All these kinds of skills are intrinsic to being a good seeker of God and are vital in sustaining our spiritual journey. For those who are proactively seeking spiritual growth the Guru is more active, guiding them in an unseen form according to what is needed for them.
Out of the entire population of the world, few take up spiritual practice that is universal and beyond the confines of formal, organised religion. Among these, very few people through their spiritual practice (regardless of their religion of birth) attain a spiritual level of over 70%. The unmanifest Guru then works completely through some of these evolved individuals who are then known as the manifest (saguṇ) Guru or the Guru in the human form. In other words, a person has to be at least of the 70% spiritual level to qualify as a spiritual guide or a Guru. The Guru in human form acts as a beacon of spiritual knowledge for humanity and is in total alignment with the Universal Mind and Intellect of God
2.1 Literal Meaning of Guru
The word ‘Guru’ is derived from the Sanskrit language and has a deep spiritual meaning. Its two syllables Gu and Ru stand for the following:
Gu denotes the spiritual ignorance that most of humankind is in.
Ru represents the radiance of spiritual knowledge that dispels the spiritual ignorance.
In short, the Guru is the One who dispels the darkness of spiritual ignorance in humanity and bestows upon them spiritual experiences and spiritual knowledge.
3. Differences between a teacher/professor and a Guru