Written by: Daya
In these challenging times, whatever our belief about how the pandemic came about, where it began, what it is, or even whether it exists at all, the fact is, these times are affecting people worldwide.
More than ever before, it became evident how amazing it is in my own life to have the love, care and support of family, friends and especially of my guru!
In the West, the word guru is the quickest way to get rid of unwanted chatter, since it’s often met either with total silence and a quick withdrawal from the conversation or a defensive reaction as if the mention of the word is a threat in itself. Interestingly, the word guru just means teacher, a ‘dispeller of darkness’, someone who removes your ignorance by enlightening you. My own guru, Paramahamsa Vishwananda, sometimes reminds us that the most popular guru nowadays is ‘Google guru’. Kidding apart, He also explains that actually, the first guru we ever have is our mother. The mother is the first to guide us, to share with us the first experiences we have of life. The father is the second guru. His guidance is often different. It is more directed towards preparing us for the world outside and so often our experience with that guru can be tougher. We come into contact with many other gurus in our life, throughout our education – all the teachers we encounter at school and any other place of learning. All those gurus we accept one way or another irrespective of their competence, caring, likeability and our own emotional connections to them.
My own journey to my spiritual path and guru came from a constant and persistent feeling something very important was missing. I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly, but it kept gnawing at me and didn’t leave me. I felt there was more to life, more to me, and so I became a spiritual seeker. At first, I felt alone and unable to share anything about my attempt to seek out something to fill the missing part. After coming into contact with people going through similar quests, I felt more comfortable and more confident over time that perhaps I could be on the right track for myself. After some time, I chose to go down a new route in life to the one I was on. Once I acted upon my choices and made several changes, then the most amazing synchronicity happened. I met my new husband, who was also ready to go on a new life journey. Our wonderful joint adventure got well and truly on its way. When you are ‘ready’ to go on that new journey, your guru appears. Even if in your mind you aren’t consciously looking for one, he comes and ‘nudges’ you in a way that only means something to you and no-one else. There you are, surprised but willing to explore, to follow that guide along the new path and see where they lead you.
And that’s what happened to our whole family at the same time. We met our guru, Paramahamsa Vishwananda, together. The love that radiated from Him was so immense and so freely given to us who were complete strangers, we were overwhelmed. We could feel it was sincere, that He wasn’t making any kind of effort, He was just being Himself fully. From my elderly mother, my brother, my husband, my two older children all the way to myself and the newest addition to the family, our youngest daughter, we were all hooked! Fifteen years later that first encounter is still vivid in our memories and our hearts.
The thing about a true guru is that they take full responsibility for guiding you. They are serving you, inspiring you, directing and helping you to reconnect with the Love of the Divine. To guide you to attain your highest potential, the guru will do whatever is needed to polish you from being a rough diamond into a beautiful shiny one. To connect fully within yourself, with full acceptance and surrender and ultimately to your true Essence – which is Divine Love, in full God-consciousness. Big words – sounds unattainable….but that’s the thing the satguru (a guru who is fully God-conscious), is already there and so he can guide you. More importantly, he is willing to dedicate himself to doing that – but you need to cooperate and make your effort, do your part.
My chosen path is Bhakti Marga. It is the journey to my true Self – that part of ‘me’ that is there but covered by many layers of emotions, expectations, and lots of unrestrained mind stuff – and ultimately to Divine Love. On this path, our satguru, guides us to develop our personal relationship with God. What we seek is actually already present inside of us, not outside. Not human conditional love – the Love of God, which is unconditional and eternal. As Paramahamsa Vishwananda says, ‘the path is only 40 cm long – it’s the journey from the mind to the heart’.
Seems very simple, right? It is anything but. It’s also not about living in a cave or meditating all day. That isn’t realistic. For most of us, it is about living while facing the same challenges everyone faces every day – working, paying bills, taking care of family, home and so on. In other words, juggling many balls at the same time and trying to keep them all in the air while following a spiritual path as well. It isn’t always easy. It requires effort, dedication and focus.
Since it’s not effortless, how come I stay on this path? Well, it’s because it is the most worthwhile journey I have ever been on. The support, the caring guidance, and unconditional love Paramahamsa Vishwananda shows every single person on this path is phenomenal. He is the best example of His teachings. He is also the best parent, friend, teacher all in one! He doesn’t judge, coerce, reject – instead, He is direct, sincere, kind, caring, fair, humble, guides without forcing, picks you up when you fall (which usually happens after you ask for His advice but decide to do something else anyway and it all goes wrong), but gives you tough words when you need it. He doesn’t magically make all our problems disappear or give us God-realisation at the drop of a hat, but He does help us to become stronger, more confident, more accepting of ourselves and trusting in God as we realise we aren’t in control of anything and that is okay. Whatever He does is for our benefit, to awaken what is hidden inside each one of us so we may radiate the Love that is God from inside of us. He doesn’t make promises He can’t keep or say it is an easy path without effort or challenges. We all know he is with us even when we live thousands of kilometres away. We all have countless experiences of His presence in our daily lives, as related by many Experiences with the Master. Listening to people’s testimony of their personal experience is always inspiring and just goes to show how varied yet unique all our encounters are with our satguru.
One of the many wonderful things about this journey is that we also get to meet so many different people, from all over the world and many become family. More importantly, we meet people on the same chosen path, and that commonality brings us all closer and to a better understanding of ourselves too. The association with others is a choice of course and doesn’t necessarily grow into deep friendship but nevertheless, through witnessing everyone else’s journey and sharing our own, we can grow and learn from each other.
Paramahamsa Vishwananda often reminds us that life can be simple but we human beings like to complicate everything, and life is really all about Love, Love for the Divine. And, not to expect anything else from Him, because all He knows is Love and that’s all He can ever talk about. At the end of the day, no matter what subject He speaks about, or stories He tells or whatever He quotes from, the essence behind it all is always Divine Love. That is the only thing that is eternal and unconditionally available for each one of us. Everything else is finite. Through our satguru’s teachings, spiritual practices, seva (selfless service), rituals and study of sacred scriptures we live our daily lives, whether we live in one of the ashrams around the world or in our countries, contributing to society just like everyone else. Guruji’s own life is dedicated to this path, to us, 24/7. During this year, He has been keeping us company online with spiritual practice, answering questions, and giving darshan so that everyone can participate no matter where they are.
I wouldn’t go back to how I used to live before I met my satguru. I am sharing all this because I truly believe it is the best and most worthwhile journey to go on. I am not where I hope to be yet, but every day I try to improve, to change, to follow the teachings of my satguru to the best of my ability and to hand over the fruits of everything to God. There is no perfection in my life, there is however, a deep longing and love for the Divine that engulfs my soul and supports me. That in itself filled the ‘missing’ part.