The Necessity and Greatness of the Guru

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by Abhishiktananda

image The French Benedictine monk Henry LeSoux wrote magnificently about the darshan he received from the great Advaitic Sages Ramana Maharshi and Gnanananda. Although he took a traditional Hindu name (Abhishiktananda), LeSoux’s residual commitment to Christianity kept him struggling to reconcile East and West in his own heart and mind. In this excerpt from his extraordinary book “Guru and Disciple”, LeSoux/Abhishiktananda argues that the the deepest link between all religions is their common recognition of the irreducible necessity of the Sat-Guru.

Beyond the experience of things and places, of watching or participating in rites, of reading or meditating on the scriptures, or of attending lectures, there is the experience of meeting with men in whose hearts the Invisible has revealed himself and through whom his light shines in perfect purity-the mystery of the guru.
The ancient title guru is alas, too often sullied by being used lightly, if not sacriligiously. No one should use this word, let alone dare to call someone his guru, if he does not himself have the heart and soul of a disciple.

In fact it is as unusual to meet a real disciple as it is to meet a real guru. The Hindu tradition is right to say that when the disciple is ready, the guru will automatically appear: only those who are not yet worthy spend their time running after gurus.

The guru and the disciple form a couple, a pair of which the two elements attract one another and adhere to one another. As with the two poles they exist only in relationship to one another . . . A pair on the road to unity . . . A non-dual reciprocity in the final realization. . . .

The guru is most certainly not some master or professor, preacher, or spiritual guide, or director of souls who has learned from books or from other men what he, in his turn, is passing on to others. The guru is one who has himself first attained the Real and who knows from personal experience the way that leads there; he is capable of initiating the disciple and of making well up from within the heart of his disciple, the immediate ineffable experience, which is his own-the utterly transparent knowledge, so limpid and pure, that quite simply ‘he is’.

It is not in fact true that the mystery of the guru is the mystery of the depth of the heart? Is not the experience of being face to face with the guru, that of being face to face with ‘oneself’ in the most secret corner, with all pretence gone?

The meeting with the guru is the essential meeting, the decisive turning point in the life of a man. But it is a meeting that can only take place when one has gone beyond, in the fine point of the soul as the mystics say.

Human encounters do not exclude duality.  In the deepest of them one can say there is a fusion and the two become one in love and desire, but in the meeting of the guru and disciple there is no longer even fusion, for we are on the plane of the original non-duality. Advaita remains for ever incomprehensible to him who has not first lived it existentially in his meeting with the guru.

What the guru says springs from the very heart of the disciple.  It is not that another person is speaking to him. It is not a question of receiving from outside oneself new thoughts which are transmitted through the senses. When the vibrations of the master’s voice reach the disciple’s ear and the master’s eyes look deep into his then from the very depths of his being, from the newly discovered cave of his heart, thoughts well up which reveal him to himself.

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