Satsang on Discipleship

Swami Amritananda Saraswati speaks with devotees about the meaning and purpose of experiences encountered on the path of discipleship. Recorded at Satyananda Ashram, Mangrove Mtn., Australia, in November 1980.

Why is it that no matter how close I feel to guru, it is never close enough?

It is good for a disciple to feel some distance also. Then there is scope for him to learn and grow. Once you think that you have attained something in life, then there is no scope for further growth. But when you think that you are not close enough, not wise enough or not spiritual enough, then the path of spiritual growth is always open for you.

Guru is always closest to the one who feels that he is his. When you have accepted someone as your guru, establish the relationship, make him yours. Guru may have millions of disciples, but for each one, the guru is his alone.

Is it possible to come to guru without any purpose in mind, other than wanting to be with him?

When you come to guru, it is better to have no purpose or expectations. This does not imply that you should live purposelessly. Rather you should let guru decide the purpose for you. If you go to guru with a specific purpose in mind and find that it is an unrealistic aspiration, then frustration results. This can be a great obstacle in the path of a seeker. So it is better not to have any fixed ideas about what you want to achieve, or the way to go about it. Just let your guru guide you.

Are the inner and outer guru the same?

They are both the same. The inner guru is the outer guru, and the outer guru is the inner guru. The distinction between them only arises due to our individual consciousness, or ego.

If you do not have or want an external guru, is if wise to rely on the inner guru for guidance?

Your inner conscience is not always a reliable guide, as you may still be dealing with the gross aspects of mind. When you are not sure how evolved you are, then it is better to accept an external guru. By doing so you can safely project all your thoughts, ego, emotion and devotion onto him and he will lead you along the right path. This is the proper procedure to follow. It is far better than waiting for enlightenment to happen as if by magic.

How does the disciple receive transmission from the guru?

That is a very difficult question. How do you explain receiving the sun's rays? You can say that you see its light, and feel its warmth, but what else is there to say? Transmission is even harder to describe, as it is very subtle. This is not something which is consciously experienced, but nevertheless it is always taking place.

In a sense, transmission can be defined as the general well wishes, good thoughts and spiritual consciousness emitted from the guru to all his disciples. How much of this you receive depends on how open and worthy you are, and how far you have evolved. This form of transmission is available to all, even those who are not aware of it, or do not want it.

As the sun shines everywhere, so the guru's enlightened soul beams its transmission to everyone. We receive it from our own guru, and from other gurus as well. But we receive more from our own guru because we have connected our awareness to his and we feel him more, think of him more and expect more from him. This is because we have so much devotion, faith and love for him.

What is the significance of guru dakshina?

Guru dakshina is very important for all disciples who are sincere about their guru, his work and their own spiritual development. These offerings should be made regularly every year, not just once when you take diksha or initiation, but many times.

Dakshina means 'sacred offering'. By your attitude of love and devotion, and your faith, this act of giving will bring you even closer to your guru. When you have this attitude in your heart, then along with the material offering, you are also parting with some of your attachments and samskaras. Each time you give, you say 'Hari Om' to a portion of your ignorance. That is the real purpose of dakshina; it is for the disciple's own self-purification and self-liberation.

Does it matter whether the guru accepts or rejects our offering?

The act of giving freely, without any obligation, brings great happiness and contentment. It is thus an expression of your love for another. That person may or may not return your love, but he usually respects the gift and the thought behind it, and treats you with consideration. Sometimes, however, the guru may appear indifferent when you offer him your savings, your children or yourself. He will not necessarily thank you, admire you or appreciate you. Even if you bring him dozens of elephants or give him hundreds of acres of land, he will not always show you consideration or respect. He may even reject your offering.

However, the sincere disciple keeps offering anyway, whether or not his offering is respected or valued by the guru. When you release an arrow from a bow, you must draw back the bowstring fully, then the arrow will go far. It may not hit the target or even go in the right direction, but nevertheless it will have taken flight. Similarly, the attitude of a disciple should be that whether the guru accepts or rejects his offering, whether he himself becomes wealthy or poor because of it, still it will lighten his burden.

With this attitude, we purify ourselves every time we give guru dakshina. Our mind becomes quieter and the treasures of our thoughts and imagination are revealed. This is the secret, the science and the logic behind dakshina. We are not helping the guru with our property or our economic aid; rather, we are helping ourselves.