Seeing the Teacher in Everyone
The Guru Mantra:
Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru devo Maheshwara
Guru sakshat, param Bramha, tasmai shri guravay namah
The Sanskrit word guru has been taken by the west and made into something that it is not. We think guru means “expert” like being a tech guru or a fashion guru. Guru is a powerful Sanskrit word that means the remover of darkness/ ignorance. A guru is a teacher that removes ignorance or misknowing and leads you towards the Light. It is someone who gives you the knowledge you need to take you closer to enlightenment and away from ignorance.
The Guru Mantra is an amazing teaching which tells us that there is a teacher in everyone and in everything. It speaks of the guru or enlightenment principle that says that if you have the humility and presence of mind every being that crosses your path is your teacher, every experience you find yourself in is your teacher, every single moment is your teacher.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” The Guru Mantra speaks to that completely. The guru, the teacher and the teachings are ALWAYS there for us but only if our eyes, minds and hearts are open to see and understand them.
It’s pretty easy to see our parents, our family and people we admire as our teachers, but if you take a step back can you see your partner, your children, your friends or even strangers as your teachers? What about the people in your life or in your past who have hurt you or trigger you? What about the people who have broken your heart or the people who make you furious? Are they not your teachers as well?
If you’ve been reading my writings for a while or have been in my classes over the years, you’ll know I’m very open about sharing my life and you’ve probably heard my speak of an awful relationship I was in 6 or 7 years ago. This relationship was abusive, built on manipulation, lies and deceit. It was the most difficult 18 months I’ve ever experienced and yet when I look back at that time, on those experiences I had and that human being, I am so grateful to him for being one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had. I know that sounds crazy and although I did think I was losing my mind at the time, I promise you I am of sound and healthy mind right now. That abusive, manipulative relationship taught me boundaries, it taught me to put myself first, it taught me to say no, it taught me to identify manipulative intention and it taught me to ALWAYS trust my gut. I would not be the human, the woman, the teacher, the wife, the mentor or the friend I am today without those lessons. I would not be living the life I’m living right now without going through those experiences. Although there was a lot of pain, trauma, fury and anger, those experiences also gave me the ability and the tools I needed to learn to deal with all of that and everything else it triggered in me. That time in my life pushed me onto anti-anxiety meds and into therapy, which saved my life. It taught me that having iron-clad boundaries is a non-negotiable to me and started me on this all-important path of Self-Love and radical self-acceptance.
At the time I certainly did not appreciate and recognise that being as my teacher but hindsight is an amazing thing. When I look back on my life now to my most incredible relationships, to the awful experiences, even to the seemingly most mundane moments, I can see the teacher in each of those and I’ve trained myself to see the teacher in every moment of my life. Be it mind-blowing teachings from my husband, teachings in unconditional love and forgiveness from the rescue dogs I work with or teachings of acceptance and understanding from my students, the guru is with me every moment of every day.
The thing about the guru principle is you have to allow your ego to take the backseat here. You have to invite humility into your heart and allow the teachings to make themselves known and seen. The teachings are not always easy, happy and comfortable. Sometimes they are painful, violent and heartbreaking, but we need all types of teachings to propel us down the path to enlightenment.
What is happening right now with the #blacklivesmatter movement is one of those painful, violent but ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY teachings that we, as a global society desperately need. We need to see what is going on all around the world, we need to commit to finding the teachings, commit to learning how we can stand up to this unrelenting and massive injustice of our world and we need to do the work to be and do better. Being Yogis automatically makes us activists whether we like it or not. These teachings force us to look at ourselves, at our actions and at our lives and do the hard, sometimes painful work, to do better, to be kinder, to be more compassionate and to change the world. It is our responsibility to dig deep, get uncomfortable and change our hearts and our lives in order to help the world out of suffering, in order to reach enlightenment. Not just for ourselves but for all beings. Because we are so intimately and intricately connected when one is suffering, we are all suffering.
My teacher Davidji writes in this month’s Jivamukti Focus of the Month:
“Often, we feel that generosity only benefits the other, not ourselves, but the truth is whatever way we act toward others has an equal effect upon ourselves. In order to be cruel to others we must first be cruel to ourselves, to harm others we must first harm ourselves and to be kind toward others means that we are also kind toward ourselves.”
The guru principle not only tells us that the teacher is in everything and everyone we experience, but it also tells us the guru is inside us. Everything we need is already there if only we have the humility and presence of mind to see it. As much as we need to look for the guru we also need to BE the guru for everyone that crosses our paths. We cannot be the guru if we are bogged down with ego, hatred, ignorance and victim mentality. We can only be the guru if we are open to ALL teachings, if we have unconditional Love in our hearts, if we are open, kind and compassionate.
I invite you to see the guru, to be the guru and invite the Guru Principle into your experience. If we stop learning, we die, so keep learning, keep seeing the teacher, be open to all the teachings.