Although in the west the word “Guru” has become synonym with “expert”, “master”, “influential teacher”; in its origin, it means “guide” or “mentor”, and although at first glance many would say mentor and teacher are the same, etymologically based on their Latin roots, they are not, but that is a subject for another day.
A real Guru does not like to be considered a master of anything, the reason behind this wisdom is knowing life’s lessons don’t simply stop; there is no such a time when one has “arrived” and can consider one self fully knowledgeable–one can become illuminated, this does not mean, one claims to know everything.
The word “guide” makes reference to someone who understands that the more one learns, the more there will be to learn; a spiral of continuous learning and growing. The Guide also knows such a process is an individual one and not based on limited concepts of right and wrong as set by dogma or a specific society’s programming. To a guide, “right” and “wrong” (aside from nature’s primordial principles) are determined by whether or not they serve the individuality and expansion of each being.
Over the centuries there has been a tremendous confusion about what it means to flow with life, individuality and ego. Beautiful ancient teachings, have been distorted to promote the killing of all ego and individuality; claiming that not to do so, is to be selfish, wrong or outright narcissistic. However, the original teachings that focus on mental, physical, spiritual, etheric growth, all promote individuality in order to better understand and transcend the illusion of duality. They taught about the transcendence of the false ego, not its destruction; for to destroy means to fight with it and seek to conquer it, yet in doing so, one fails to learn from it. Also, to live in this plane of life without a healthy ego, is to willfully enslave oneself to others whom ultimately will be directed by someone. As such writer, thinker, philosopher Ayn Rand was not wrong to point out that to follow a system of self sacrifice is to be naïve and blind as to think there is no “master” at the end of the other line. This is why she expressed –show me someone promoting self sacrifice, humility (not simplicity) and I will show you someone who either seeks to be controlled or seeks to control–either way, a person who seeks to destroy the ego is avoiding self responsibility.
Today I would like to share the story of Rumi, whom never considered himself a teacher or master but a student of life and a guide. This story is about Rumi meeting his “Guru” and learning that to open his mind means to accept life is a constant learning cycle and one doesn’t “arrive”. Learning that through healthy individuality one connects oneself with the divine within and without, and with others. In learning one is the student and the guide, the sinner and the saint, one actually starts the process of transcending duality.
This story is a story of pure love…the purest love…the love of one for life and the love life has towards you…
According to this tale, on the morning of November 15, 1244 in a small town in Turkey, Rumi who was 37 years old at the time, was riding on a saddle; what he was riding is not very well known, some say it was a horse, others that it was a donkey…
Rumi was entering the busy market of the Sugar Merchants, and suddenly; as happens with everything that transforms us; something indescribable happened: Rumi’s eyes met for an instant the gaze of a Guru, he was dressed in black and passing by. It was an accidental crossing that to Rumi became a “Divine Surprise”. In that “giant moment”, Rumi felt “seen”, he felt as if a ray of light had fallen on his head, letting out a spiral of smoke. He felt as if his heart had melted and as if his mind had been pulverized; he let out a loud cry and fell to the ground. He had been knocked down by the “imperfect purity” of that “gaze”.
After an hr. or so, he came to his senses; upon opening his eyes, he saw the smiling face of the Guru whom had not left Rumi’s side since the fall. Taking each other’s hands, they headed to the school, and locked themselves in a forty-day spiritual retreat. We have no specific details about what was said there, we only know that Rumi recognized in that Guru, the one he had been asking God and all existence to come into his life for so long–this is what happens with every spiritual seeker, one ceases to see oneself as separate from the divine within and without, when one is finally “seen” and met with love.
Rumi saw in that Guru, the guide who could help him transcend his mind and to start knowing Reality–with a capital letter. They used a capital letter because reality with small letters is a by-product of illusion and duality; all reality arises from interpretation, a perverse invention of the finite and illusory mind–to recognize this, to accept this, is to start the process of transcending duality and starting to “see” Reality.
Out of that encounter, Rumi would later say “What you seek is seeking you”–in Reality, you are not looking for anything or anyone, for all is inside of you; it is life, the divine, that which cannot be define that is looking for you…seeking to express itself through you, in the process helping you discover your own individuality, and as a result, connecting you to the ecstasy of the source.
The meeting of the gazes of Rumi and his teacher has been defined as “the confluence of the two oceans”, two immense vastness full of the divine; Rumi would write about it: “It’s in the eyes, the rest is just flesh” or one of his more popular quotes “A human being is essentially a spirit-eye. What you really see, you are that”–powerful quote, for if you only see enemies everywhere or feel everyone is just out to “attack” you because they disagree with you, then that has more to do with you, than it has to do with the external. In other words, you see the world not as it is, but as you are. As such, if you claim to be open minded but cannot tolerate the idea of someone else believing differently than you…are you really being “open minded”? One can claim love and care for the world but if you are exclusive rather than inclusive, if you promote division and hate…are you really loving?–good questions to pose ourselves, for we like to delude ourselves that we are saints or saviors (or its other extreme, that we are sinners and martyrs) but we are both, because we all have our opinions, and have lived differently and see the world differently and react to situations differently; you are entitled to your opinion, but there is a problem when your opinion promotes hate–it reflects your unhealed wounds or denial.
What kind of knowledge did Rumi access in that unique and transcendent moment? His entire work; which includes thousands of verses; is a hymn to the Real One, which leaves no room for any definition that arises from duality. As a guide himself, he would say: “Only existence can say I am”–only in daring to exist, can you claim that you are being; it is not found in giving your individuality and power away, but in claiming it; it is in healing our wounds that we start to BE.
It is before that reality; consciousness over mind, love in its full definition rather than the dogmatic teachings we are constantly raised with; that Rumi melted—“Except pure love, everything else vanishes”. Sadly dogma has caged “pure love” to mean chains; the type of love Rumi was referring to was as immense as the infinite, for divinity is not finite but dogma always has had limits…
“I am not Christian, nor Jew, nor Muslim. I am not of the East or West, nor North or South. I am not from water, nor from earth, nor from air, nor from fire, not even from the ether. I am not from stars, or from existence, nor from the stars, nor from the essence. I am not from India nor from China, nor from Bulgaria, nor from Greece. I am not of this world nor of the next, not from heaven nor from hell. I am not from Adam nor from Eve, nor do I come from Eden nor I am going anywhere. My place is the no-place, my footprint leaves no trace. I have no body or soul because I belong to the reality of the beloved”.
Such powerful words were twisted to teach people to negate self; meanwhile Rumi was expressing the process of transcendence and recognizing the same divinity ancients had talked about– the one which truly cannot be named, which has no limits, which is within and without…SPIRIT. The type of the divinity which cannot be caged by society’s right and wrong, nor by duality–the type of God, Nietzsche, Carl Jung, Buddha, da Vinci, Nimrod del Rosario, and countless others were trying to teach about…the divinity which can only be found when you integrate “light and darkness”, instead of trying to control or destroy one or the other. The type of divine power that sets you free and does not need your constant worship and supplication; for you show your love and venerance for it (respect–for veneration is not the same as worship) when you live past the programming meant to cage your very power….the love you carry within. It is a divine force which does not require of you to give up who you are, nor be on your knees in order to be loved, accepted or “holy”.
“I have discarded duality, I have transcended illusion, I have seen that the two worlds are one; but capitalized One, because lowercase one stands alone and separate, but capitalized One includes everything”
“I have drunk the most spirituous drink in existence. I am intoxicated with the cup of Love, now the two worlds have disappeared from my life; I no longer have anything else to do but be at every celebration”–the ecstasy one feels when looking in, when daring to make love to life and let it make love to you–you grow, you expand.
As time passed, Rumi used language to write hundreds of mystical poems that would try to convey the indescribable. One day he met people who knew him from before, and they asked him:
“What happened to you, Rumi?”
“The pure look knocked me down, I fell and can never be the same again. I dove into it and came back whole”.
It is the story of a student who ceased to be one; to become the joy that arises from experiencing life’s pure love and allowing it to embrace you, allowing oneself to melt into it, only to arise in love… a bit more healed, a bit more whole.