Swamiji gave many satsangs about the necessity of having a Guru if we want to progress well on the spiritual path, about the Guru-disciple relationship, how we benefit from having a spiritual master, and advised how to celebrate Guru Poornima. Here are some of his golden words.
“Guru Poornima is a day to remember the saints, sages, avatars and spiritual masters who guide us on the spiritual path and who have been born on this earth from the time the world was created.
This day comes once in 365 days. On this day, let us think about those great souls and in our minds chant, “Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devor Maheshwaraha” and think of the Supreme who is the Guru of Gurus. Then think of the spiritual master you have accepted as your Guru and chant his or her name nine times. This will be equal to receiving the grace of your Guru for the entire year. During the morning fast and break your fast in the afternoon by taking some vegetarian food. During Guru Poornima practise some spiritual sadhanas such as staying in silence (mounam), listening to satsangs, singing devotional songs and participating in abishekams or meditation. On this special and sacred day, think deeply of your Guru, read some of his or her teachings and from then on follow one of these teachings throughout the rest of your life.
This day comes only once a year. Although you may have much work and many duties on this day, do not forget its greatness.”
“It is not easy for everyone to acquire a Guru. Even if you discover a Guru, it is rare that he or she understands your feelings and guides you individually, according to these feelings. Everyone will expect the Guru to be like him or herself. It is very difficult for an ordinary person who lives entangled in the illusions of this material world and experiencing life’s ups-and-downs, to come immediately to the same state as the Guru. However, the Guru does not understand this. It does not seem to be difficult when he looks at it from his state of being, but it is difficult when he comes down to your state and thinks about it. Do you think it is an easy thing to get a master who does not remain in that high state of being, but comes down to your level to mingle with you all as an ordinary person? A master who lives amongst you, doing day-to-day normal work, pretending to be a very ordinary person but all the while experiencing the highest spiritual state?”
“Everybody is looking for short cuts so that they won’t have to walk along the path. Now we have short cut spirituality. Short cut enlightenment. Short cut meditation. Short cut abishekam. That is why even our dresses are becoming short cut. Who knows, when time passes we may not even have clothes. In ancient days people wore no clothes – maybe we will go back to that period! Gurus can only point out the path. Progress is in your hands. Progress depends on how interested you are. You must ask yourself, “What state am I at? Who am I? Where do my interests lie?” You must think about why you were born. Put your hand on your heart and ask yourself this question. Ask yourself how long you are going to live in this world. If you can answer these questions then you don’t need to ask any more questions! Your life is passing by and you are not asking any questions. We are just carrying on with life without questioning the purpose of life and without questioning why we are here on this earth. You are just doing things according to your wish without thinking deeply about why you are here.”
“Once a person went to a great saint and asked him for spiritual advice. The saint simply said, “Just be.” Do you know what it means to just be? If you understand this you will understand the relationship between Guru and disciple. I know another story about a different saint. One day, someone went to see him to ask for advice. That saint was very harsh and scolded his visitor using unkind words. Then he shouted at him, telling him to leave! This Swami was not like Swami Premananda! He chased the poor man away like a dog. When saints do this, some devotees will run away whilst others will stay with such a saint even if he scolds them again and again. Even if that saint scolds those devotees and tells them to leave, they will simply go and sit somewhere else that is near to the saint and wait there for him. For such spiritual lessons we do not have to expand our Ashram – no dharmasala, no translators, no new rooms to build. I simply have to chase away the devotees!! I wouldn’t need to bother with a youth group, or coordinators, or letter correspondence!!
So, after the saint had chased everybody away he walked out of his Ashram and found one devotee sitting there waiting for him. So he asked him, “Why did you come here?” The devotee replied, “I came to see you Swamiji!” Then the saint said, “What point is there in coming to see me? Why don’t you look at yourself? You have come to see me without seeing yourself first. You have time to see me but you don’t have time to see yourself!” With that, the saint walked away and the sishya went back home to ponder over what the saint meant when he said, “Look at yourself first.” If you understand this story then you will understand everything about the Guru –sishya relationship. If you do not understand you will not know the meaning of it. One Guru said, “Just be.” and another Guru said, “Know yourself.” If I ask you to know yourself or look at yourself, you will go to your room and look at the mirror and come back and say that you have seen your face. When a Guru asks his devotees to look at themselves they may be afraid that they will find dirt on their faces. However, they will look in the mirror and then come back and say, “No, I am all right.” If you had gone to see a Guru in the olden days and said to him that you had looked at yourself and seen yourself when you looked in the mirror that morning, he would have given you a slap and then sent you away. He would have hit you so that your teeth would fall out. Why do you think he would have done that? Isn’t it because when he said that you should look at yourself, what he meant was, you should look at your thoughts, your inner being and at all your inner feelings and so on and not at your external face? He is talking about internal cleanliness, not external cleanliness. How do we clean ourselves inside? We have to rid our minds of jealousy, competitiveness, ego and pride. That was what he meant by this small sentence, “Look at yourself.” When the other saint said, “Just be,” what he meant was, do not allow your mind to stray everywhere; just be, don’t stray. This was the way in which the ancient Gurus taught their sishyas. The lesson that I am teaching to you is the same. Can I teach these lessons to you now? Are any of you interested?”
“The spiritual path is not an easy one but the joys one experiences on the way and its ultimate reward of enlightenment cannot be measured. Yet, still, many disciples wish that the master would give them immediate enlightenment. Some false gurus might charge two thousand dollars and claim to enlighten their disciples. Disciples who are foolish enough to pay out such money should understand that this is not a perfect or true way of spiritual learning. One cannot get immediate understanding of divinity or the higher self. Unscrupulous gurus who charge money like this understand the mentality of their impatient followers who feel that spirituality is a commodity to be bought. Such “gurus” become wealthy very quickly to the cost of their misled pupils. A faultless, enlightened guru will not demand fees for teaching spirituality.”