Tree of Knowledge

Tree of Knowledge

Window to the light  

Seeking the divine within oneself is a great journey that covers a lifetime. With the help of a guru, however, one can attain enlightenment with ease, says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Life can be quite complicated at times. There is pleasure, pain, happiness, suffering, generosity, greed, passion and dispassion. When our life is full of such opposite values, our mind gets confused and is unable to handle these complications. It is then that you need the wisdom to guide you through the troubled times. Guru is that wisdom. When you cannot handle life, he comes to your rescue so that you remain sane and balanced. If there is some compelling desire that bothers you, your guru is there to offer solace. You offer all your desires and pain to your guru. Having a guide makes it possible for an individual to relax and smile all the time, walk with confidence, and remain fearless. And that is wisdom.

Look for a guru

In ancient India, having a guru was not just a matter of pride; it was mandatory. The word anatha in Sanskrit means one without a master. Our mother is our first guru and then, from science to spirituality, from birth to death, the guru principle permeates our life. There is a guru for every discipline — dharma (religious) guru, a kul (family) guru, a raj (kingdom) guru, a vidya (a particular discipline) guru and sadguru (spiritual master) — who gives us a second birth by delivering us knowledge and skill. It gives a heightened sense of awareness that makes you feel alive.

In the Upanishads, five signs of a sadguru have been listed. In the presence of a sadguru, knowledge flourishes (gyana raksha), sorrow diminishes (dukha kshaya), joy swells up (sukha aavirbhava), abundance dawns (samriddhi) and all talent manifest (sarva samvardhan).

A guru does not simply fill you with knowledge but kindles the life force in you. He invokes not only intelligence but also intellect. A guru is just like a window. He is the one who brings more joy, alertness and awareness into your life. He does not hold any authority over you or dictates terms. Rather, he encourages you to be in touch with yourself. He reminds you to live in the present moment and takes away the guilt, agitation, sorrow and anguish.

Become a devotee

There are three types of people who come to the guru — the student, the disciple and the devotee. A student goes to a teacher and learns something, gets some information and walks out of the school. The student is the one who collects information but the information is knowledge, it is not wisdom.

Then, there is the disciple; the disciple follows the example of the master. But a disciple is with the master for the sake of gaining wisdom, for the sake of improving life, for attaining enlightenment. He tries to bring a transformation in his life. Finally, there is a devotee who simply rejoices in love. He has fallen in a love with the master, with the infinity, with God. Students are in abundance, disciples are a few but devotees are rare.

One of Buddha’s devotees named Sariputra achieved enlightenment. Soon thereafter, Buddha told him, “Now you go ahead, go into the world and preach, teach, and do the same work I do. Carry on my work.” As instructed, Sariputra left Buddha but he was crying. People asked him, “Why are you crying when you are enlightened?” He replied, “Who cares about enlightenment? It could have waited. I didn’t even bother about it or ask for it because the joy of being at the feet of Buddha was so great. I would have preferred that to this enlightenment.”

True master

Spiritual path is not a path of learning alone; it is a path of unlearning. The true path is one that takes you home and kindles that deep love in you. Love is not just an act. It is our nature. It is what we are made up of. Love is something that even the divine rejoices in. The infinity longs for you as much as you long for it.

Guru is not limited to a body or a form. There is an element of the guru in every human being. That wisdom in each has to be awakened. When this element is aroused, misery disappears. In our consciousness, wisdom comes to life when the guru tattva comes to life. When we have no desires of our own, then the guru tattva dawns in our life — when all the boundaries drop; you feel one with everyone around and one with the whole universe.

Devotion is your nature. Offer everything to the master — your anger, your frustration, all your bad and good feelings. Your negativity pulls you down. Your positive qualities bring pride and arrogance. When you offer it all, you become free. You become light. You can again smile and rejoice in the moment. What remains in you is pure love. Once you have found a sadguru, remember that he or she is always there with you, watching and giving you wisdom.

The divine connection

The relationship between seeker, guru and the divine is like the beginning, middle and end of a same line. It is the seed, the plant and the tree. Our body has billions of cells. Each cell has its own life. Many cells are born and are dying each moment. The way there are so many planets moving around the sun, there are many cells moving around within you. You are managing an entire township inside your body. It is like a beehive.

There are so many bees that sit in a beehive but there is only one queen bee. If that queen bee goes away, every other bee disappears. In the same way, in our body there is an atom, the atma, which is everywhere yet nowhere. That is the queen bee — that is what you are, what the divine is. There is no difference between the divine, the self and the guru. They are one.


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