Finding Our Way to the Guru
Exploring Sikh Dharma Technology: A series
Its not like, years ago, I made a plan to arrive where I now find myself. But, like most of us, I kept making choices that I thought would keep me moving in the right direction – my True North. Without any intention to do so, I recognized a growing feeling of divine guidance steering me ever forward. This guiding light seemed determined to lead me toward an increased connection to the infinite experience of the Divine. At first, I had no word for this force in my life. Now, I know this to be the Darshan of the Guru, the blessing of the Guru’s presence in my life guiding me ever Northward.
What is Guru?
The Guru is many things and can be experienced in many forms; or even without form. The Siri Singh Sahib often translated Guru to mean, that which takes you from the darkness to the light. “Guru” is often thought to refer to a teacher, such as with a teacher of classical Indian music. But even when referring to such a teacher, it is understood that the Guru’s role is to train the student in all facets of being. In the full definition, Guru is an infinite resource of teaching, healing and guidance.
The spiritual path can be difficult to navigate alone. The role of the Guru here is to be the “boat” that crosses the treacherous waters, that connects our limited self to our infinite self; to be the “doorway” that opens our understanding to the expanded vision of the path forward; to be the “beacon of light” leading our ship to safe harbor. By the Grace of the Guru, the door opens – our ears open, we hear the call and we respond to it.
Often, you may first experience the Guru in the form of sudden or fleeting insight or guidance. This can be categorized as the Nirgun (formless) Guru. Or this can be said to be the “hand of the Guru”. You feel as though there is a divine intervention. It can be as mundane as a revealing comment spoken by another person in a casual conversation that changes your understanding of an important aspect of your life. Or it can be in a sudden change in the direction of events where you are spared some seemingly-unavoidable unpleasant outcome.
There is also the Sargun (fully-manifest) Guru where this source of divine connection is continuously present in someone or something. Many people may not recognize, with full understanding, the depth and authenticity of such a Guru. In this form the Guru delivers God’s Truth with clarity and depth, and is the source of continued and inspired regeneration of hope – hope in ourselves and hope in the world. In this form the Guru inspires and guides all to their highest destiny. The relationship between Guru and Chela (student) has been highly developed in India over the last couple of thousand years. To find a Guru in that system there was a lot of importance put on vetting the pedigree of a Guru, to be sure that his Guru, and his Guru’s Guru were of recognized value and importance. There were plenty of opportunities to choose poorly; to unwittingly choose a Guru stuck in their own struggle with materialism, hence limiting the student’s progress to Infinity.
When Guru Nanak was asked who his Guru was, he said it was the Word, the Shabad Guru. A simple translation of “Shabad Guru” is, that Word which takes us from the darkness to the light. The words and sounds of the Shabad Guru are consciousness-changing elements that unlock the bounds that your ego holds over your higher self, that keep you locked in your Earth – thereby freeing your true self to soar in your heavens. When you vibrate the Shabad Guru you overwhelm the inner dialog of your mind to create Shunia – deep inner stillness. Shabad Guru uses the power of “Naad” (an entrancing rhythmic pattern of universal sounds) and the movement of your tongue over the pressure-points in your upper palate which causes actual change in your blood chemistry. The Siri Singh Sahib said, “As you vibrate, the Universe vibrates with you.” It is the actual reciting of Gurbani (the words of the Guru) which brings the formless into form; which gives the Shabad Guru a form.
Guru Nanak through Guru Gobind Singh
Many of us, through deep reverence, have created strong relationships with one or another of our Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak through Guru Gobind Singh; either through heroic stories of their lives or through their writings, preserved within the Siri Guru Granth Sahib or Dasam Granth. Although they are all said to be manifestations of Guru Nanak, they each can be seen to bring forth or represent different aspects of the collective teachings of the Guru. To many of us, they have become points of personal connection to Guru; specific archetypes to help guide us to elevated choices in our lives. We call on Guru RamDas when we need compassion and a miracle. We call on Guru Gobind Singh when we need the courage to overcome all adversity.
Siri Guru Granth Sahib
The Siri Guru Granth Sahib is a perfect balance between being Nirgun and Sargun – a balance between being formless and in form. This manifestation of Guru is the embodiment of all the teachings of our Sikh Gurus and is the living Guru for all Sikhs.
To listen to the Guru’s hukam is to listen to the language of the soul; like dipping in a deep pool of wisdom, acceptance and unconditional love.
Making the connection to Guru
But how do you make the connection you need? Each of us must find our own way to the experience of “Guru.” For some it will be clearly marked and wide open. For others it may be challenging, illusive, filled with uncertainty and even confusion. Sometimes there is a yearning in the heart that drives you surging forward. And sometimes, hesitantly, you may stumble over your own awakening, causing your eyes to open, to see a glimmer of recognition – recognition that the next step chosen holds the promise of alignment and connection. Truly, as you search for “Guru,” you also find your ‘Self.”
If you want to drink water at this tap, you will have to bend yourself forward. So, if you want to drink the spiritual nectar of the Guru, you will have to be an embodiment of humility – you will need to bow. Connecting to the timeless light within the embodiment of the Guru brings you to that state of inner peace, intuitive awakening and primal wisdom revealed. It becomes effortless – that’s the joy of connecting to the Guru.
The Siri Singh Sahib often told us, “Guru is your altar for which you have no alternative.” Which means that not only do you have no other altar that holds the same depth of spirit, but also, if you are really committed to our own spiritual awakening, you have no choice but to walk the path as guided by your Guru. As you take one step toward the Guru, the Guru takes ten steps toward you. You feel your Heart open and seek out a relationship to the Guru out of a desire to experience Universal Love. It is through your awakening to this divine touchstone of infinite guidance and blessings that you find your way back home.
Guru Nanak says it best, “Jau tau prem khelan ka chau, Sir dhar tali gali meri aau. It marag pair dharijay, Sir deejai kaan na keejay. (If you want to play the Game of Love, put your head in the palms of your hands. If you set foot on this path, do not hesitate to give your head.)
This series is offered with the hope that the content inspires. Please watch for other articles in this series.
by S.S. Pritpal Singh Khalsa, Director of Dharmic Education for SDI