Anandamayi Ma on the True Guru

Anandamayi Ma - How to Follow a Guru
February 12, 2020

There is no Guru without following. When we make contact with Guru—in the form of another human being, in the form of circumstance, in the form of the promptings of the wisdom heart—we can only relate to that true Guru by following. We use our freedom to responsively follow. Otherwise, the Guru function, while still guiding us, is doing so without our conscious participation. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Anandamayi Ma often said that she made no decisions!

She was extremely decisive, but she said she made no decisions ever. She said she had no freedom whatsoever. Because she was responding to something and following something. She was a direct expression of something, of wisdom.

Most of you know that in this kind of tradition there is no practice without guru. And maybe some of you haven't quite put together yet, is that there is no guru without following.

We live in a very brittle, flat world culture—full of decision makers. Where even the mention of living a life without making decisions seems absurd, unreal, undesirable, idiotic, dangerous, etc. What you are doing when you're not making decisions, is you're feeling for the wisdom of every moment.

You're trying to discern using your intelligence, your senses, your subtle body, your own access to wisdom and—if you should be so lucky to have a teacher—your teacher and your practice.

You're using everything that you've got to feel which way you're being guided to go. Or you're just spontaneously responding to things without deciding or thinking in an analytic way because you're being in touch with your own wisdom.

So Ma was the embodiment of that primordial wisdom. She was showing us what it looks like to live when you are thoroughly immersed in that.

If you really want to wake up, if you really have an inner sense that, that's possible. Because you can't want to wake up if you don't already know that it's possible. The desire doesn't arise in full measure unless you—somewhere in you—have confidence that it's possible.

You have to follow wisdom in all circumstances. You can't hold on to anything of your conceptual decision making, analytic mind. You have to find a route for consulting actual intelligence and you have to follow it unquestioningly.

This is Ma's teaching and it's my experience. If you actually want to wake up, you can't hold some part of you aside and say, I'm not going to give this or I'm going to be ordinary here and make decisions in my own old way over here.

You have to find ways to consult wisdom and if you don't have those ways, you have to follow a teacher.

And in our culture, that's really a bizarre thing to do, the way that we live. And so it takes for us, it takes extra courage and extra work to let go of the fear of doing this.

But when you let go of ordinary-mind decision making and do your best to discern wisdom and follow that, in whatever form it occurs to you or appears to you. What you also let go of is worrying about yourself and what is going to happen.

Because when you have confidence that self realization is a possibility, even no matter how distant. When you have contact with wisdom, either you feel confidence in the teacher, you feel confidence in your own access to wisdom. You have to feel confidence in something, some form of wisdom.

When you have confidence in that. Then even though you may have a habit of worrying or a habit of trying to over control what happens. You can always get back to the place where you understand that even not knowing what's going to happen and even in spite of the fact that you feel afraid.

If you are following wisdom, there you can make no blunders.

It doesn't mean everything is going to turn out the way you want it to. Ordinary mind wants it to.

It simply means that there is no better way to move in the world than to be following wisdom to the best of your ability. And trying to feel for the timing, for the moment.

Using all your subtle senses or your teacher or other tools that we have that you're actually grasping something. You're not just blindly going along, not using your ordinary mind. That's not how this works. This is using your senses and your real intelligence.

People who actually have gurus—there's a lot of people who say they do—but people who actually are in a guru disciple relationship have confidence that wisdom is being manifested in their teacher and they can follow because they have that confidence.

People who are following teachers because they're emotionally dependent or it's wishful thinking, or because it looks good on their spiritual resume, you know, those people are in a different kind of relationship. And this is where you get people getting into all sorts of trouble with yucky teachers. They have sincere desires, but there's also a lot of dependency there.

You don't have to wonder. Sometimes people wonder, you know, is this person my guru? Is that person my guru? You don't actually have to wonder about that.

There's only one litmus test. That person is letting you experience primordial wisdom in some way or another and this is what Ma has to say. And she's talking here about true guru, which is another thing that people get all confused about.

People think that true guru is one particular person and there's only like this is the equivalent of the soulmate. You know, that people are wandering around the planet looking for their one true guru. Some of us are.

So Ma said that "whenever true knowledge"—true knowledge of existence, true knowledge of your real nature—"is obtained from anyone, for that knowledge, he is the satguru".

This kind of relates to what I've said many, many times, which is that even if you are temporarily or permanently studying with someone. Having a teacher who has limitations, which everyone does. Even very realized people have some limitations. To whatever extent they're showing you your real nature, that is 100% pure. Even if there's a lot of other stuff happening too.

If you can recognize your own nature, if you can have that experience through anyone, then that experience is perfect. It's not tainted by the fact that, you know, they chew their food too loudly and don't clean up after themselves [laughter].

So, "whatever true knowledge—Sat is obtained from anyone, for that knowledge, he is the satguru. Whoever helps in attaining one's own nature is in reality satguru".

You might study with one teacher for most of your time. But anytime anything reveals to you, that anything about your real nature and the nature of existence, that is satguru.

There is only one satguru, its guru tattva.

The guru element in everything and it pokes through and lights up different situations and different people, different circumstances, different relationships.

I just got an image of like light shining through a doily. You know, it's like there's some areas are blocked. Some areas are coming through, but when the lights coming through, it's light. That's what it is. Even if some other areas, the light is not coming through.

This is Ma's stuff. "Many hang their heads in disappointment, murmuring, I have received an initiation from satguru but what progress have I made?" Then she says, "just think when a little ink is spilled on a cloth, how much time it takes to remove it! How could you expect the thick layers of impurities that obscure human consciousness to be cleared up in a few days or months?"

"Rather than trying to estimate how efficacious the power of the guru and the mantra is, you should lay emphasis on exerting yourself to the utmost".

So this is another thing. When we have these fantasies about the one and we know this from romantic fantasies, right? If only I met her, everything would be better. It would all be okay. All my problems would be solved. I would finally, [teases a student] nah you don't want to know what I am talking about [laughter].

Go on now.

We have the same fantasies about teachers. If I only met that mythical satguru, the one that's somewhere on this planet that I have to roam everywhere looking for, that person is going to do it for me.

Well, as I've said before, even Ma never did it for anybody. She gave people extraordinary glimpses. She helped people to keep continue on their path with more of a beacon. But she didn't cause a single person to become enlightened. Everybody, even with Ma, still had to do their own work.

[quotes Ma]"By sitting back comfortably. Spirituality does not come. Hard and sincere labor is indispensable, in order to realize the self. With implicit faith and a sacred regard for the guru's instructions, continue your practice with the greatest possible regularity and concentration. Rest assured. Success will be yours. Those who serve reality will be gripped by it and led on the path to self realization".

Those who serve reality will be gripped by it and led on the path to self realization.

Led and gripped. Not leading and ordering and deciding.

Those who serve wisdom will be led by it. You have to serve and you have to be led. You have to let yourself be led. No holds barred. You have to experiment with. This is what surrender means.

Surrender doesn't mean giving up your intelligence. It means giving up your faux intelligence. Sometimes people are scared that surrender means, you know, I'm just going to be like be a doormat. Or get dragged around by somebody and I have to just play dead.

Ma saying, no, you're not playing dead. You're exerting yourself to the maximum. But the exertion is in feeling wisdom and following it.

If you don't feel wisdom, if you don't have a sensible experience of it. If you don't recognize it, in the situation that you're in. Then you don't have anything to follow, even if you're going through the motions.

So in that case, if you're following a teacher's instructions or practices, but you don't feel, or can't identify, or don't have an experience of the wisdom, in that situation—that kind of alchemical experience—and then what you have is an upaya teacher, someone who is just teaching you technique.

So there's no guru without this kind of recognition of wisdom and following.

And once you recognize that and begin to follow it, then you eventually realize that there is no need for any fear.

Even though you may, I still even sometimes, still feel this like echo of resistance. Where my mind will just start to go in some habitual way, and I'll start to veer off course and then I'll remember. And what I remember is that there is only one road to waking up.

I mean there's many different costumes, aka spiritual traditions. But the only road to waking up is to become immersed in wisdom and be responding to that and have that be your life.

To recognize the wisdom in everything and be following and responding like the call and response of kirtan—in this dancelike improvisational way that involves very little deciding or planning.

So this is why and very, very misunderstood teachings, but this is why there is this constant refrain in the teaching texts of India and Tibet—I don't know about China but India and Tibet for sure—that you should follow the teacher unquestioningly. This is really, it's kind of a dangerous teaching. If you just read it in a book and you don't have any other teaching about, you know, explaining it.

Because then what happens is people just hook up with any old teacher and they have a nice robe or they look sweet or whatever. They have nice followers. They just hook up with any old teacher and think, okay, well, I'll just follow this person blindly.

There's no blindness about it. No blindness need apply. It's eyes wide open and senses wide open.

And then it's like that. Okay, I have this confidence that this is actually going to get me where I want to go. You're following your own desire, your own longing. You're following your own self.

You're following for your own reasons. Because you have a desire to actually discover your real nature and wake up. And then you have a situation that is working, that has that magnificent quality. There's definitely a magnificence to it and there's absolutely nothing blind about it.

It's interesting because we think we're safer. Think that we're taking this risk when we're making all these decisions with our ordinary mind and compartmentalizing everything and lining up all our ducks of planning.

But we're actually much, much safer when we're just following wisdom, moment to moment. This is what it means taking refuge in the self.

There is no refuge in our ordinary mind way of going through our lives.

That just leads to more of the same. Success here, a failure here, a screw up here, a nice thing here. You know, it's all up and down all the time, and it's exhausting.

It's absolutely exhausting.

We're always worrying about what's going to happen. Is this the right thing to do? Trying to figure out with our ordinary minds, if we're doing the right thing. And when we are following wisdom, we don't have to do any of that.

There are many, many ways of following wisdom. Of course, this kind of tradition is one of them, but there's many other ways, too.

And eventually it's just there, present to you all the time, inside and out.

And that becomes your new natural habit, where you can literally feel what the next step is supposed to be and what it's not supposed to be. And when you can't feel it, you consult teachers, and you consult divination, and you consult astrology.

There's little ways that we have of getting access to that wisdom when we can't ourselves. Nobody's perfect at it. I mean, all the great teachers of the world consult. There's nobody on the planet but people like Ma who live in that state of kheyal—of improvisational response to Wisdom 24/7. I mean, you just can't.

The absolutely most realized people still use divination, still use astrology, still consulted their own teachers and each other. You know, this is just the way of the world. It's completely natural.

So there's no sense that we're graduating to independence as individuals.

We're graduating to responsiveness, within this whole, unified, continuous living situation. And apart from being scary, it's very, very relaxing.

It's only scary when you still have all your concepts about your individuality and there's something very scary about what might happen to you or not happen.

Every circumstance that we're in is God.

When you get that, you can still have, like, sometimes I still think—oh! what if this happened to Jaya Kula or something? Well, I mean, really, it'll just be the next thing that Ma has in store. We'll just work with it.

Everything is workable.

One thing you can always do when you don't know what to do is nothing.
That's a nice beginning way to play with this. And you don't know what to do, just don't do anything. Wait and see if you can feel for it, after a little while.

We feel this urgency about decisions, right? They're not really that urgent, most of the time. Maybe occasionally we have a deadline or something, most of the time not. The other thing that this cuts down on is all this self concern. The need to so relentlessly examine every little thing that's going on with us, resolves.

We need to know ourselves in an ordinary way. But some of us have made a career out of self examination, at the expense of self realization.

It's all that one wisdom.

It's not just circumstance, but your own self. That actually, the immediacy of the moment—of that living presence and just being there and working with it, and following it, doesn't really call for a whole hell of a lot of self examination.

Self examination has its place, for sure. But it isn't as big of a place as we think it is [laughter].



Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.