Q: All religions show the way to spirituality. If so, what is the importance of a Guru? The search for a Guru is a trend nowadays. The number of Gurus is also increasing every day. Is this an indicator of an increasing spiritual purity in human beings? How do we identify a real Guru?
Sri M: Yes, all religions show the way. As far as number of Gurus increasing, it is just supply /demand (laughter). In order to assess the increased spiritual purity, we have to first consider how the Guru is. We cannot say we don’t know. If there is a duplicate out there, there has to be an original somewhere. Only out of an original, can a duplicate be made. To differentiate between a duplicate and an original can be difficult.
There are some criteria for this. First, when you go to a Guru or a Sheik or a Murshid in Sufi parlance – don’t immediately fall at his feet and say, “Yes, this is my Guru”. Such attitude is dangerous in the present times. Who knows, one may be saying so on account of the Gurus’ good looks (laughter).
In order to differentiate, do follow and observe the Guru for a time, live with him for a period of time – this is the old method. When you live with him, you will observe how he is behaving in all conditions and circumstances. Don’t jump to conclusions by just seeing his behaviour on the stage, sitting there and smiling is easy. However, we don’t know how he behaves, say with his cook or driver at home. In public, we may see him as calm and collected. What we may fail to know is how he is within, in actuality.
If he is truly developed spiritually, he will be a picture of equanimity always – then there won’t be a problem. To understand all this, we have to be with the Guru for some days. During this time, we will also get to know if he wants to give us something or whether he is actually interested in your chequebook. Is he saying one story to people and living another story within? Only after ascertaining this, should one decide.
Also, there’s one more thing: a particular Guru may be suitable for me but may not be suitable for someone else. Hence, I am against mass spiritual teaching. Prescribing the same formula to all and hoping that all will reach the goal – this is not going to work, as all are different individually. So, there are some such criteria to consider before selecting a Guru.