The Guru’s Hint
Have you heard of the phenomenon of the “Guru’s hint?”
The most obvious “hint” is when your teacher says to you: “I suggest you do this,” or “You may want to do that.” Your teacher is inviting you to a deeper level of surrender. The hint is an opportunity. But it is an opportunity that recognizes your free will. Your teacher knows that it is up to you whether or not to make that leap. (Teachers who try to threaten students into obeying are generally not worth following.)
The hint is also a test. The teacher can find out a lot about where you are in your practice based on your response to a hint.
A hint always comes at a juncture: if you follow the hint, you will be unwinding some karma, aka, you will be giving up some cherished pattern in your life. The student who has not yet fully entered the stream will respond in an ordinary way. “I have other things to do,” or “I’ll try to do that if it’s not too inconvenient.”
A student who is ready to surrender more deeply may still feel disturbed, but will work with that and agree to follow the teacher’s suggestion. For a student who has fully entered the stream, agreement will be instantaneous and doubt-free, although perhaps still not fear-free.As students progress, hints become more subtle; A word, a nod, or a glance from the teacher is enough to send the true disciple of Self running to fulfill the teacher’s request.
Anandamayi Ma taught that “the aspirant will act exactly according to his Guru’s instructions, will carry out to the letter every hint, and thereby his own direct path will open out by itself. In this everything is contained.” [Ananda Varta, v.32, no.3, p. 207.]
What did she mean by “his own direct path will open out“?
Reality is communicative, but most of us are trying to hear those communications using two cups connected by a string. The Guru is our gateway to the world conversation. By learning to hear and follow the hints of the teacher, we eventually learn to directly hear and follow the hints of our total situation.
The hints of Self to Self can come in many forms: a word, an image, particular sensations at different points in the body, or other kinds of spontaneous arisings, including what we normally call omens. This world has infinite languages!
As the senses expand through doing consistent sadhana, each person learns to read and receive the hints of the Supreme Self in his or her own way.
At first, when we still need help walking the middle way between all of our karmic compulsions, these hints suggest the correct path, like lights on a runway at night. The hints will still come at junctures when we are about to impulsively move in a direction that might slow down our process of Self-realization.
Unlike so-called intuitions that sometimes just reaffirm our karmic fixations and are easy to follow, hints at earlier and middle stages often provoke resistance.
Later, we gain confidence in the wisdom of the hints we receive. We are less reluctant to follow. Fear diminishes.
Finally, we experience the hints as aspects of a cosmic conversation between Self and Self. We experience them as part of a cosmic play or dance.
Anandamayi Ma herself called the communicative hints she received her “kheyala.” Kheyala carries meanings such as impulse, improvisation and intuition. A famous type of Indian classical improvisational music is called “kheyal.”
We begin to learn to play this music by following the teacher’s instructions.
As Ma said: “Therefore follow the Guru’s instructions without questioning. As long as the [ordinary] reason of the individual is in power, how can the knots be undone?” [Ananda Varta, v.27, no. 2, p. 78-9]
In Ma’s love,