Positive Attachment to Guru

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

When Paramahamsaji was asked, in 1994, how sannyasin disciples could adjust to his physical absence, he replied that, firstly, we should remember that the guru is only a catalyst. The light is within us, it does not come from outside. One has to be a light unto oneself. The guru is inside, the light is inside, the consciousness is inside, and eventually we have to turn our vision inwards to experience it. We cannot remain fixed or attached to a person because it eventually leads to many problems. It also colours the true aspiration which originally brought the teacher and disciple together. To have a guide is well and good, but to hook or latch onto that guide is wrong. If it does happen then you are no longer able to understand why you came to spiritual life. You are not able to maintain your inner sincerity and begin to dupe yourself.

Secondly, sannyasins should be even more aware because a sannyasin must live like a lotus leaf. A lotus is born in water and lives in water and yet it remains absolutely free from the effects of water. In the same way, a sannyasin is also born in society and lives in society, but does not follow the normal patterns that society expects in the form of attachments or feelings. There is clarity in the life of a sannyasin, not obsession. You have your feeling, your emotion, your devotion, but you should not enter into emotional bondage with the guru. The relationship between guru and disciple should be free from that attachment or bondage. It should be clear, spontaneous, natural and inspirational, rather than physical. One has to link with the inspiration, with the direction and not with a physical body.

It is a human weakness that we associate with people who seem to be above us. We try to develop an affinity, a closeness, an intimacy, in order to boost our self-image and ego. There are some people who take pride in saying, “My guru meets with presidents and prime ministers and therefore he must be very high”. That is boosting our ego. Why do we care who the guru meets, whether it is a pauper or the president? Why do we need to use that image to boost our feelings and convictions? We try to develop a closeness, an intimacy, an affinity with someone to overcome some of our own insecurities. Such a relationship is developed between husband and wife, between friends, between gurus, between elders. But we want to have an image of ourselves as being connected with a person of high status, and there is no sincerity in that feeling.

We have to remember three things. Firstly, that the experience, the knowledge, the light has to come from within; secondly, to lead a life free from the impressions of human society; and thirdly, to avoid emotional bondage. You may wonder why, because we all function in the realm of emotional bondage. On the positive side, emotion can be an inspiration, but on the negative side, the attachment to an emotion makes us dependent on that emotion. So, to avoid that dependency, to maintain clarity of vision, clarity of mind, clarity of feeling, it is necessary to be free from negative attachment.

Be positively attached. Live that inspiration which you have imbibed and do not look for a physical connection. Closeness does not mean anything. It is what you can give and not what you can receive that is important. Paramahamsaji gave the example of different swamis who, because they had travelled with him in the past, thought they had become very close to him. But this is not true. A servant always travels with the master. Does that make the servant the next person in line to the master? No. Wherever the master goes the servant goes, but the servant never replaces the master.

Therefore, we should also remember that we all have some ability, and it is the positive expression of that ability which takes us high up in life. We have also received inspiration in our own ways, according to our mentality and receptivity, and it is time that we used that inspiration and ability.