In India, it is often said, ‘Guru is God.’ But in the complex and ever-evolving world of the 21st Century, can we still hold on to such beliefs? As Indian culture slowly makes the journey from the traditional, to the modern and postmodern era, can these ancient beliefs survive intact, untouched by the piercing lens of cultural evolution, the revelations of modern science and the profound insights about human nature that have come from western psychology?
Indeed, even in the land that gave birth to such remarkable spiritual geniuses as the Buddha, Adi Shankara, Sri Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo, can we still hold on to the notion that these profoundly enlightened masters were therefore, inevitably perfected human beings?
‘Guru is God’ implies that a true guru is perfect in all ways. This means that the physical form of body, mind and personality of the realised one is always an expression of manifest perfection. Does the profound gift of spiritual enlightenment inherently mean that the receiver of that gift is always perfect in all ways?
I don’t think so.
And that is because anything that is born, that has a beginning in time and that will eventually die, is inherently imperfect. But unmanifest absolute spirit or Brahmn is perfect because it has never been born and has never entered the stream of time and therefore is ever untouched by anything that has ever happened in time.
The man who has become a true guru, a true master, has a personality that has become radically transformed, now mysteriously and powerfully animated by the immortal consciousness of Brahmn. That awakened consciousness expresses itself as the guru principle. This principle has the power to awaken earnest seekers directly to the consciousness of Brahmn.
But if the guru-principle itself is to survive the unstoppable, dynamic movement of cultural evolution into the future, then it needs to be remodelled. The authority and power of the guru need to be downscaled in such a way as to emphasise that the human persona of the realiser is always inherently relative and in that, will always be imperfect. This somehow needs to be done while still finding a way to deeply honour that the manifestation of the guru-principle, when fully activated, reveals an absolute metaphysical source and uniquely reflects the brightness and brilliance of that source in all its overwhelming glory.
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