There is only one truth. The rishis (seers to whom mantras were revealed in deep meditation) prescribed various paths that will take one to It. Isn’t it best that one decides which path one likes and then acts according to one’s own freedom? Is it necessary to come under a Guru and live according to a particular discipline and a regime of yamas and niyamas (don’ts and dos)?
Children, it is said that, “The seed is Brahman (the Supreme). The tree is also Brahman.” But, the seed cannot bestow the benefits - the shade and fruits - that the tree can. In order to do so, it must go underground, break out of its shell, sprout and grow into a tree. If it egoistically refuses to submit to the earth, thinking that everything is contained in itself, the seed will not become a tree. It will probably be eaten by some rat. Likewise, if we arrogantly think, “Everything is in me. Why should I bow down to anyone?” we will never be able to realize God. We will remain trapped in samsara (the cycle of birth and death).
When the seed sprouts and grows into a sapling, a fence must be built around it to prevent goats and cows from eating it. It must be nourished with enough
water. It must be given enough shade so that it does not wilt. However, once it becomes a tree, then one need not tend to it anymore. One can even tether an elephant to it. Likewise, until we attain the goal, the fence of yamas and niyamas and the shade of a Guru are necessary. Once we have realized the Truth, we will do only good to the world. Nothing will
bind us. We can progress towards the supreme goal only if we can break out from the shell of ego, the ‘I’ sense.
At present, ours is like a journey based on a map. From the map, we know that if we take a particular route, we will reach a particular destination. However, we have no practical experience of it; we lack knowledge of ground realities. We do not know if the conditions are conducive for travel. There might be wild beasts or armed robbers on the way. The roads might not be good. If someone who has travelled along that route accompanies us, we can set out courageously. However, it is not enough to find such a person; we must trust him, too. Only then can we travel with confidence. If we doubt him, we will have no peace of mind. In the same way, only one who has known the Truth can lead us to it. Only he can advise us when the need arises. We must have total faith in such a Guru.
The Guru is trying to take the disciple to the goal as soon as possible. If we just read some book, we will not reach the goal. We must put into practice what we have read. We must open our heart to the Guru. Only then can He fill our heart. In order to do so, we must renounce the ego and cultivate an attitude of surrender. Just as moisture causes a seed to sprout, and just as the warmth of a mother hen causes an egg to hatch, in order to realize the Self, the shell of the ego must break. For this, the water of the Guru’s grace and the heat of discipline are necessary. The real Guru is within us, but we do not realize this because of the ego. The ego pushes us into spiritual darkness. Actually, the outer Guru is awakening the inner Guru. Until the inner Guru awakens, taking refuge in and obeying the outer Guru are the safest bets for an ordinary person.
Once, a Guru and disciple were returning after a journey. The disciple was exhausted. On the way, when he saw a Bo (peepul) tree, the disciple said,
“O Guru, I cannot take one more step! I am about to collapse! Let me rest here for a while. And then I will catch up with you.” Seeing the disciple’s tired face, the Guru said, “Al right,” and continued walking. The disciple lay down in the shade of the Bo tree and fell asleep at once.
After walking for some distance, the Guru saw some women working in a field. He went up to one young woman, grabbed her and started running. The villagers gave chase. The Guru ran to where the disciple was sleeping, dropped the young woman next to him, and fled the scene. Those chasing the abductor saw the young woman sitting next to a man. Hearing the commotion, the disciple awoke. What he saw unnerved him: there was a sobbing young woman sitting next to him; a short distance away, a gang of men with sticks and other weapons were coming towards him to beat him up. Frightened, the disciple jumped up and ran for life.
When the Guru reached the ashram, he saw the disciple there, panting. Feigning ignorance, the Guru asked, “How did you reach here before me?
You said that you were too tired to take another step, and then you lay down there, didn’t you?”
The disciple had nothing to say. In this way, the Guru will adopt many methods to protect the disciple. He has only one goal: to somehow help the disciple reach the goal in the shortest possible time.
Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi