Today marks the annual observation of Guru Poornima, a time during which we recognize and honor the presence of Guru in our lives. The word guru is found everywhere in western culture these days, yet it is often misinterpreted and misunderstood. On the one hand, anyone with expertise in anything feels entitled to call him or herself a guru. On the other, the concept of spiritual guru often carries the connotation of slightly weird cult leader. Even those of us who recognize a connection to a guru are sometimes confused and uncomfortable about the nature of that relationship. So what exactly is a spiritual guru?
The Sanskrit Glossary of Yogic Terms tells us the word guru derives from two words, gu, meaning darkness, and ru, meaning dispeller. In simplest terms, then, a guru is one who through teaching and example dispels the darkness of avidya, or ignorance. Through the guru-disciple relationship the guru preserves and passes on a spiritual tradition, and helps us connect to that tradition. Guru's teaching and inspiration help keep us on the right path so that we can develop our own higher faculties--so that we can move from darkness to light and, ultimately, connect to the guru that dwells within our own being.
Swami Niranjanananda charges us to strengthen our awareness of Guru in our lives this Guru Poornima. How strong is the presence of Guru in your life? What helps you stay connected to Guru? How might you strengthen that connection? Come explore with us at a special Guru Poornima sadhana this Sunday at 5:45 p.m. We will have photos of our Satyananda gurus on our altar but welcome you to bring representations of any others you honor as your gurus as well.