Dr. Vijai S Shankar MD.PhD.
9th May 2008
Guru is a revered word. It is an ancient word and it normally means a teacher and a guide. The word brings with it adulation, devotion and love. It is very evident that ‘guruhood’ has become a tradition. A spiritual guru is something like a middle man between God and man. A guru can also be a teacher of knowledge, general and religious. To every one adulation and devotion are the perks. There are many gurus spanning every field of knowledge. They are akin to professors of the west, whose mastery over ancient languages, scriptures, religion etc., cannot be disputed.
The teaching in ancient times was initially oral, by word of mouth, so to speak, which still holds good even to the present day. This form of teaching was supplemented by crude forms of writing which, by any measure, was sophistication. Reading was the next step that followed. All these three forms of communication were the tools of teaching. Teaching methods are not free from sophistication, which is the hallmark of life. Presently, methods of teaching are electronic and digital as well. The shape of things to come is open to speculation.
But who taught man to speak? Who could have been the first man to speak? How could the first man have learnt to speak without the help of another? It is difficult or impossible to identify the first man who spoke or who could have been the Guru who taught him to speak. It certainly could not have been man. Nor can anybody name the language of the first word spoken. The point that man spoke had to be a happening and not a teaching. So too would have been the case with writing and reading.
Primitive man was initially just making sounds, which sophisticated as the first word and, at that very point, the mind was born. Words began to form within the mind one after the other. Man began to collect words or, realistically, words began to collect within the mind. When sufficient words were formed they began to arrange themselves as sentences that conveyed a meaning. All these happened to man and he could not have made it happen, as the first man to whom it happened could not possibly have had a guru.
Speaking is basically external thinking and thinking is likewise internal speaking. This means that thinking happened to man and he could not have had a guru who taught him to think. Thinking was the sophistication of the rudimentary mind. Therefore, thinking became externalised as speaking, which was a point of sophistication in life, by life and not by man.
It is important to understand that the thinking process happened to man and has sophisticated to phenomenal heights to date, and will continue to do so as life progresses. Speaking was the next step in sophistication, later followed by writing and reading. It is important to understand that the methods of teaching, oral, writing and reading, happened to man and he could not possibly have brought it about.
Therefore, it is impossible to find the guru who could have taught man these forms of learning, and so too with the latest methods of teaching. Of course, it is easy to identify the man who is given the credit for developing these sophisticated methods, but even he needs to be taught. Nobody can ever teach the first man, for then the teacher or the guru would be the first man to be credited with the discovery.
Discoveries too happen to man and he does not make them happen. If he could make discoveries in his own right, then the first man, who had the first word within his mind, should have made it happen too, but how could he as the first word would necessitate the presence of a pre-first-word ‘word’? But there wasn’t one because man was making sounds only, like any other animal, and even those sounds which he emitted were not brought about by him: they happened to him.
Therefore, the accumulation of words within the mind became knowledge, and what came to man as knowledge was transmitted to another orally, through written words or by reading. This transmission of information was not really transmission as the word suggests. Knowledge comes from within as it did to the first man. The meeting between the guru and the disciple too is a happening, like thinking, speaking, writing and reading.
The meeting, which happens, coincides with knowledge happening to the disciple, while the exposition of knowledge happens to the guru. A perfect scenario is cast of a guru, the disciple and teaching in progress. This is illusory, because what really happens is a singular movement that is projected as disciple meeting guru, teaching by the guru and transmission of knowledge taking place. Actually, the knowledge from the guru gets repeated and knowledge from within the disciple makes its appearance in the mind.
So, it is important to understand that every form of knowledge happens to man, taught by life and not by guru, as is commonly believed. Guru is an expression of life and not really a man, but merely appears as a man.
Soon a special knowledge came into being that became religion and spirituality. The knowledge about god became religion and the knowledge how to become god became spirituality. Those who were endowed with this knowledge came to be known as religious and spiritual gurus. Knowledge kept growing within the mind of man and eventually the realisation of the illusoriness of the mind too was understood by man. This understanding too was a happening. These men were known as the sages or enlightened beings.
Enlightened beings are those who perceived that life is timeless and thoughtless, and hence the possibility of man being the doer, speaker or thinker is illusory rather than real. A guru is he who explains this illusory world, which includes man and his mind, in detail. A guru is not he who merely declares that the world is illusory. This is knowledge- trafficking which, though enchanting, is not an understanding that frees man from anger, hate, jealousy etc., which plagues his mind as an everyday affair.
Life is light and knowledge is an illusory manifestation of sound. This illusion is the sophistication of sound. Soon spiritual techniques happened to man. The techniques were bodily and mental methods. The mental methods were recitation of mantras and scriptures, while the bodily methods were meditation and related, yogic techniques and postures. Similar to the happenings within the mind, the bodily actions were nothing but an optical illusion of action. A singular movement of the body appeared as a spiritual action within the mind and a perfect optical illusion of light was set in motion. Hence, both mental and bodily movements projected an optical and auditory illusion of religion and spirituality.
Thus, life manifested academic, religious and spiritual gurus only as an illusion and not as a reality. If it is true that the world, as envisaged by the enlightened beings, is illusory, and it is not disputed that it is not, it makes all gurus illusory and not real, what they teach illusory and not real, and their techniques, both mental and body-oriented, illusory and not real. Knowledge, ancient, contemporary and sophisticated is illusory and not real. The mind happened to man. Before the mind happened to man life was happening to him. As sophistication happened to the body, it happened to the mind as well. Man’s bodily sophistication was always ahead of the mind. The body is an optical illusion of light while the mind is an auditory illusion of sound. Light appears first, followed by sound.
Knowledge about spirituality also sophisticated from rudimentary experiences to the present-day, multicoloured version. Special effects are not restricted only to cinema: they are present in spirituality too. The gurus who specialise in them are spiritual, special-effects professionals. This is the meaning of oneness. Professionals are present in every branch of knowledge, spirituality and religion - they are not an exception. Spirituality in any form makes man merely feel superior to the other, a holier-than-thou sort of feeling. This feeling of superiority cannot be holy for it contradicts the spiritual saying that all men are equal.
The body is continuously moving from birth till death. Actually, that which makes up the body is continuously moving and it is next to impossible to find the starting-point of a body. This is exactly why life is without cause or effect. The birth of the body is merely a sophistication of this movement. Similarly, the mind was the next to sophisticate. The movement of the body is actually the movement of light-waves and, when they move, they produce sound. Sound sophisticated to form words with meaning. Sentences soon formed within the mind and a vague, but not an accurate, description of the movement of the body was generated within the mind. This vague description described an illusory action. This description later sophisticated as experiences, imagined within the mind and not in life.
Experiences are, therefore, thoughts and not real actions in life. Spiritual experiences are likewise thoughts and not an actuality in life. The entire life is spiritual because everything, including man, is an expression of life. If this is so, and it is the case, then everything and everyone is a guru to each other. Every situation, illusory though it may be, is nevertheless a guru. They are guru for they reveal an understanding that any situation in daily life, religion and spirituality is illusory.
The world is spiritual as it is and everyone is spiritual as they are. The very attempt to become spiritual or to change the world is an insult to that which is always spiritual, as everything in this world is. Thinking, speaking and doing happens to man as an illusion and not as a reality, for life is a singular, spontaneous, uncontrollable and unpredictable movement of light. Therefore, in life, the ordinary is the extraordinary. Whenever you are in search of the extraordinary, you are missing it all the time, in every moment that passes by.
A guru is not one who engages you in a specialised behaviour of spirituality, while the mind remains filled with thoughts such as anger, hate, jealousy, doubt, distrust etc. that appear real. A guru is one who explains that the mind is illusory in every detail, and does not just repeat that the world is illusory and provide methods to get out of the illusion. If the world were illusory, the methods too would be illusory.
Your children are your gurus; your pets are your gurus; your servants are your gurus; your friends are your gurus; your relatives, your everyday situations and whoever you may meet is your guru for they all, in their own right, and in the roles they enact, when rightly understood, reveal enlightenment to you. The adage that the real guru comes to you and there is no need to search for him means just that - i.e. everything and everyone is a guru and not just the one you are in search of. A guru is not exclusive; a guru is all- inclusive. Every moment and every thing within that moment, no matter how illusory, is a guru.
© Copyright V.S. Shankar 2008