The Secret of Guru–Disciple Spirituality
By Swami Navananma Jnana Tapaswi, Santhigiri Ashram
Guru-Disciple Spirituality is a discipline to be learned by individuals in their life. It is not a matter of rituals; it is a way of life through practice. Therefore, there should be an authority to learn from. Spirituality is not a philosophy to be learned from books. Instead of books, the spiritual philosophy is decoded through the way of action (karma) and the status embedded in the spirit is known.
As the law of science defines – ‘for every action, there is a reaction’, the bodily action is considered as a reaction of the energy status of the spirit and vice versa. As the law of nature presents, every thing is part and parcel of the canvas of the nature and is the exhibition of different spiritual statuses in different forms. That is why in the world everything exhibits its own quality being the nature incorporated in the concerned bodies or materials. Whatever the energy status manifested through different bodies, it has a basic instinct which is subject to changes. This Will of the Ultimate is applicable for human spirits also. That is why Indian spirituality says that human beings are animals having ‘ashta raagas’ (eight-fold cravings) and the capacity to do ‘mananam’ (capacity to think). That means the capacity to think about time. To think about time means, think about the past, present and future. Therefore, the evolution of the spirit from the level of human happens through the development of knowledge or ‘jnaanam’ (ultimate spiritual realization).
But each and every individual with a spirit lives on this earth through the evolutionary track of the spirit which is embedded with a quality accumulated till now. Spiritual status of the individual is determined according to the karmic instincts in the spirit earned through different incarnations. Spirituality has to free the individual from these basic instincts and limitations. This is possible only when an individual is capable to do action (karma) with an appropriate knowledge so as to nullify the bad effects carried by the spirit. This appropriate knowledge is considered as dharma and this is to be learned from the embodiment of dharma – a Seer.
The very traditional concept of Upanishad was this learning process. It means, sit beside the Guru and learn the secrets of life from the mouth of the Guru. This is the very live practice of sharing the good and bad or the pleasure and pain with a person who is an authority of the spirit, i.e. an Aatmajnaani. Aatmajnaani, being an evolved spirit, by perfecting all karma and dharma and hence freed from them, is considered as the very incipient status of a Guru. In the above said state, the spirit attains ‘ashta aishwaryaas’ – the eight-fold fortunes. This is the level which transcends the status of devi-devaas (celestial gods) when the spirit attains the planes of rishis (the abode of seers), sanyaasis (the abode of ascetics), jnaani (the abode of perfected seers) and the state of bhakta (the abode of ardent lovers of God) reaching where the spirit becomes eligible for mukti – liberation. Such a spirit which has attained liberation is considered as the ultimate Guru.
In Sanatana Dharma, the Guru is considered as the embodiment of Brahman, the Almighty and termed as Brahma Jnaani (knower of Brahman). And the Brahma Jnaani being a trikaala jnaani (perceiver of three-fold time), is the authority to guide one towards mukti (liberation) from the spiritual stages beginning from man, deva, rishi, sanyaasi, jnaani, and bhakta. Whenever a person gets such a Supreme Guru for God realization, it is the way of dvaita to attain advaita, i.e., to attain the formless attribute-less state through the medium with attributes. This is the noble concept and true practice of Guru-Disciple order, which bestows God realization. When a disciple is lucky enough to lead life with such a Guru and do his duty combining bhakti (devotion) and the power of vigilant concentration (yogabala) that becomes the natural way of spirituality. Hence this Guru-disciple relationship is the very natural, true way of life by blending karma, yoga, jnaana and bhakti and which flows uninterruptedly through the advancement of disciples and their spiritual perfection. This is the very secret of Guru–Disciple spirituality.