Semi-random thoughts on gurus:
So many of my teachers during a time of crisis and growth in my life told me to "look within" I thought if another person told me that, I would have to say "Yahhhhhh !" and "Not you, too !" That is one way to do it. Contact the guru within. It is hard, however; it requires stepping backwards out onto the bank, away from the swift-running waters of our cultural norms and diversions.
One needs to have or to create a reason to take this path, and one needs a nature and circumstance that allows one to perservere in it. Otherwise, one does not maintain the watchful rigor of tuning into inner arcana ("higher wisdom" sounds too haughty here). With the sincere practice of meditation and yoga, one can make this "tuning in" a second-nature habit
A guru is an external guide for those in the majority who swim in the waters of cultural norms and diversions.
A guru once was a wild, exotic thing in the USA. In the sixties and seventies, gurus were popularized by people who did drugs (!), said "peace brother," and generally seemed in a world apart from the one I inhabited. Does anybody else remember Gurus having the reputation of being cultish and kinda like pashas in wild rumors that they got to have sex with the pretty young girls, and whatever they said, people followed, believed, and did without question? Did this really even happen, or was this just rumor and innuendo?
For a long time in my yoga practice I gave gurus a wide, wide berth.
There is another reason why, as well.
As a young girl, I was educated in a strict, ultraconservative religious dogma. From the age of five until fourteen we daily learned lessons, memorized texts, and attended services. This was the same school that my maternal grandmother attended, so it was a socio-cultural religious experience. From about the age of nine onward I began having dreams and visions that called these teachings into question. It took many years to overcome the fear, instilled by these dogmatic teachings, of punishment from God. I struggled long and hard to tease apart what pieces of information to keep and to use and which to leave behind. Anyone who has experienced the rigors of pulling away from this kind of dogma will not be a wholehearted candidate for a guru who tells them what to say, think and do.
I found Maharishi's teachings to be useful in part (I still practice TM) but overly strict taken whole cloth, ruling even the kind of music during the time of day one listens to. Not that that is a bad thing, I am just too free-spirited to honestly conform to that. Even the meditation community leaders in Fairfield, Iowa, that I knew, didn't keep the rigorous meditation schedule they externally purported to maintain.
Too much rule, regulation, external dictation breeds hypocrisy ! I don't know how to get around that, really. How much is too much and for whom?
Ammachi and Ravi Shankar also had an agenda, a business aspect of their tours and teaching schedules that didn't always blend well with their spiritual messages and images. I adore Amma and consider her hugs some of the most precious experiences of my and my children's lives. I use and treasure Ravi Shankar's breathwork as an important benchmark in the development of my practice. I do not think of them as capable of bad things- - helping children in poverty stricken areas of India, and creating ashrams in Canada are truly impeccable motives. It's just that, whenever a guru is external to you, it creates potential conflicts and complications that you need to be prepared to see (not go into denial about) and work through with your inner guru. Often gurus are followed by millions of people. How is it possible to access them when you need them?
your inner guru, however, is comfortingly close, 24/7. Eventually, it gets more and more worth it, to brave the inner chaos, to train yourself to recognize the still, small voice within, and more possible to see gurus in chickadees and sidewalk clowns, to understand your truth is always available within, and then anything, ANYTHING at all, even a breeze, can trigger a valuable message for you.