Understanding the Guru

Understanding the Guru

 Amma - Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi

To understand properly what one has heard, one must have innocence. If one is innocent, one will see goodness everywhere. One will even be able to see God. God is goodness. He dwells in all things. It is enough if we gain the eye that sees Him everywhere. Scientists say, “Everything is energy.” The rishis said, “Sarvam brahmamayam” (“The Supreme pervades everything”). If we think well of everything, we can see goodness in all things, for goodness lies in the mind. By seeing the good in someone, it is we who gain satisfaction. When he has faith in his beloved, the lover feels happy. It is the believer who gains. However, if we approach something with preconceived notions, we will not be able to grasp matters properly. Therefore, one can understand only if one is a true seeker. Many people wear coloured glasses. Hence, they are unable to see the truth clearly. If one looks through green lenses, one will see everything as green. It is our attitude that is reflected in others.

Once, a doctor went to a village with the aim of launching a campaign against alcohol abuse. He gathered a bunch of alcoholics. To make them aware of the dire consequences of alcoholism, he explained various things to them. When he saw that this was not creating the necessary impact, he decided to explain matters through a demonstration. He brought two glasses. He poured pure water in one and alcohol in the other. He then dropped an earthworm in the glass of water. The worm started swimming around gaily. He then dropped another earthworm in the second glass. It began convulsing, and then started disintegrating into pieces before dissolving completely in the alcohol! Seeing this, the onlookers were stunned. The doctor imagined that everyone had finally realized the deadly consequence of alcoholism. He asked those present, “What have you learned from this demonstration?”

At once, a drunkard who could barely stand upright drawled, “Smashing! Bottoms up, everyone! Did you see that? If you drink, all the worms in your stomach will be destroyed!”

If we approach anything with a preconceived notion, we will not be able to grasp its underlying principle. We will interpret what we hear to suit our convenience. However, if we have a sincere desire to learn and if we have innocence, it won’t be difficult to understand the true import of anything. Just as lightning illuminates darkness, innocence will show us the true way.

Sometimes, we may not understand the true import of the Guru’s words. This is not caused by limitations in His words but because our minds lack the skill to understand the words properly. We function at the level of the mind and intellect. Owing to relationships with and attachment to various material objects, our vision has become clouded. Even if we cannot understand the words of the Guru properly, if we follow those words explicitly without pausing to think about the whys and wherefores, we become deserving of the Guru’s grace and reach the spiritual goal quickly. The Guru scolds the disciple and points out her mistakes in order to lead her to goodness. If we apply a bandage before cleaning the wound, the wound will not heal. If we prevent the wound from being cleaned because doing so will be painful, the wound will never heal. If the Guru does not point to our flaws, how can we ever overcome them? He is only helping to remove our shortcomings.

Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi