I posted on Twitter that “we are our own greatest guru, but our own worst teacher.” It sounded catchy and got a few clicks. I was satisfied with it. However, when I spoke to someone about it, they brought out the flaw in the logic, “Isn’t a guru and a teacher the same thing?” Maybe.
You are a guru. You may not know it, but you are. Congratulations. There are a lot of definitions of a guru on the internet. We can dig into Sanskrit, or we can break out the legal dictionaries, but how about we use a basic definition? A guru is a “spiritual guide.”
Gurus need a few things. I’m not going to throw out the palms for you to walk on top. I’m probably not going to bow when you walk in front of me, either. Although, you deserve both palms and bowing. Just do it yourself. Seriously.
All the spiritual wisdom that you need is within yourself. You can read books like The Alchemist, and you’ll see that your treasure is under the spot your feet first began. You can travel to India, but you’ll probably sweat and poop a lot. All the power to you. If it is spiritual knowledge, or spiritual knowing, that you are seeking, you will have greater success staying quiet and listening to yourself.
The great religious teachers did this. They prayed in a garden; they wandered alone in a desert; they fasted under a tree; they got wasted at a bar. No religious experience has to be the same. If anything, the spiritual transformation has to be unique. The experience has to be YOURS.
What you know is what you get
To find your soul, you must forget who you are. To find God, you must lose your identity. To know the universe, know yourself.
Your spiritual guide is within. You can pray at the altar of Rev. Baba Muhammed Dass, but they don’t have your secret code to heaven. Your spouse or partner doesn’t have the key, either. Only you know the way and have the answers, so start looking. Ask yourself some questions, such as “who am I?” or “what is my role in the universe?” These are difficult questions, so I’ll give you a hint: they don’t have answers. But you should still ask them.
The teacher knows
Teachers do what they do best: teach. They have answers that they will give to you and will test you. There are rights. There are wrongs. A guru guides into a knowing; a teacher instructs into learning. A guru leads spiritual, personal growth; a teacher imparts facts and academic growth.
Some teachers will make spirituality academic, but they aren’t your greatest guru. You are. And, you can try and teach academia to yourself, but you’ll learn faster from an expert. But don’t you need a spiritual being to teach things of the spirit? You are a spiritual being. You are your greatest guru.