(I have had requests to write more about my spiritual teacher and my relationship with him so I have added more to this post on November 2016, and again on April 2021 — Chaitanya das)
These days it’s sometimes seen as ‘uncool’ to talk about a guru, or a spiritual teacher.
For many the word ‘guru’ evokes the unfortunate idea of a relationship where there is lack of individual thought, of giving up one’s own free will. I’d like to dispel that emphatically as far as my spiritual teacher is concerned!
‘Guru’ as an adjective means ‘heavy or weighty’ as in ‘One who is heavy with spiritual knowledge and wisdom.’ ‘Guru’ also means spiritual master or one who has dovetailed his body, his mind, his intelligence, and his will with the will of God. In other words, guru means one who is the loving servant of God and the well-wisher of others — not the master of other people.
There are times that I refer to Jagad Guru as my spiritual master, however it’s very important to understand that a bona fide guru never sees himself as the controller or master of anyone. There are so many definitions of the word ‘master’ but the one I am referring to is “One who masters a particular field of endeavor”, in this case, spiritual endeavor.
Rather than as a master of anyone a genuine spiritual master or teacher dedicates his life to helping everyone find true happiness. He is therefore the loving servant of the Supreme, the servant of his spiritual teacher, the servant of his students, and the well-wisher and servant of everyone!
He never teaches that he is God nor tries to take the place of God in people’s lives. He is someone who is filled with bhakti or love for the Supreme — and therefore filled with love and compassion for all living beings who he understands are all parts and parcels of the Supreme.
If I’m honest with myself, I had very little attraction for any spiritual process when I first met Siddhaswarupananda over 40 years ago, but he challenged me to think carefully about spirituality. Not only to think, but check what he was telling me and what we talked about.