Published: 30 June 2023 | Written by Dr. Stephen Parker (Stoma)
So why am I telling you all these stories about my experiences with the Guru in my life?
I want to emphasize, don’t get caught up in the stereotypes about what a Guru Disciple relationship means, it means so much more than you think and is so much more precious.
You do not get to interact with the personified guru very often but the Guru does come when the Guru is needed, especially at the moment of transition from this body. It will borrow your mind in the process of making that final transition. Also, when you are in mortal danger Guru will protect your mind.
Remember, it is the Guru’s presence in your mind that takes form as your mantra. Your mantra is not just a tool for meditation, even though everybody talks about it that way. Mantra is the vibration of the presence of the Guru-shakti in the core of your mind. At initiation, it is planted as a seed, a bija, which is what the word bija actually means. As the mantra-seed takes “root” it leads your awareness into subtle depths of the mind through the process of japa meditation to finally blossom as the fruits of meditation with samadhi. Your mantra is guiding you into those finer and finer experiences of Guru’s subtle presence.
In my meditation, as the process of mantra japa deepens, I stay focused on the nasagre point. Once sushumna is awakened then I just sit there and watch from where the iccha-shakti of my mind gives me an invitation. That subtle presence of the Guru tells me where to go in meditation, whether to go into a chakra, whether to work with the sushumna-stream in spinal meditation. I just wait for that inner guide that leads the meditation to where it is supposed to go, and that is perfect, just perfect. That’s what the mantra and the japa of mantra is intended to do for you. That “seed” grows as the relationship with Guru, with that inner guide and voice that is beyond words. It leads you to what you need to know and where you need to grow.
So, sooner or later the words are going to disappear and you will be left with just a feeling, you follow that feeling and it begins to become certain vibration, you follow that vibration, and gradually that refines down into a point, into a bindu. A point of both immanence and transcendence. So this is how the Guru leads us in our meditation practice, this is why the Guru doesn’t need to be a person in a physical body.
Now having a Guru is not about sitting around and listening to a bunch of lectures; that’s just something charming to do until the real stuff happens. You begin to understand this is happening when the Guru decides to “play” with your life and test you. Fortunately or unfortunately I didn’t have the ego strength to take that learning from Swami Rama at one stage of my youth. So he left me alone and was very sweet to me. I am embarrassed to tell you that because I know that he was nice and sweet to the people who were not ready to take on the disciplines of transformation. To those he recognized as ready-adhikarin, he was like fire. From my experience, I was aware of the interactions he would have with Dr. Arya (Swami Veda) in the early years. He would make a point of humiliating Dr. Arya frequently in front of everybody. And he would observe how Dr. Arya would react, how he would respond, and how his emotional state would change. He knew the lessons he was teaching and wanted to see how Dr. Arya would learn and change the habit patterns of his ego. Whatever happens, don’t react, keep your steadiness, and keep your mindful awareness. Just keep your breath awareness at the nasagre and stay in sushumna, in the mental state of neutrality and balance, and deepen your mind at every moment of your day.
At this point in my life, now in my 70’s my commitment to the guru by way of daily practice remains a dedicated time in the morning which is 45 minutes or an hour. Sometimes it is challenging because of some physical things going on. But what really matters to me at this point is how I am keeping my awareness moment to moment through the day. The test now is my attitude throughout the rest of the day, that matters more to me now. So, if you keep your awareness throughout the course of the day, then you are always practicing. The vibration of your mantra, especially in those depths that you reach in meditation begins to stay with you all the time. You feel those states of equilibrium even during times of stress. I can hear them in my mind even now as I am talking to you. It’s just a certain kind of presence, like a throbbing, it’s not even words.
So cultivating that mindful awareness, and keeping it moment to moment so that you can keep your stability. You find that with this state of mind, you can observe how the karmic residue arises in your mind and pushes you towards a certain kind of action which will determine the kind of karma you’re going to create for yourself. As Swami Rama said you are the architect of your life and you decide how you will act in that moment and the next moment. And if you deepen that sense of mindful awareness your heart automatically will grow more open, more loving, more accepting, and expand with gratitude for this process that just happens through sincerity, faith, and determination. I have enough experience of sadhana now after fifty years, and I want to encourage everybody in that direction especially now in our later years of life.
You know my two Gurus have both left their bodies. Some will ask who will teach me now that they are gone. Believe me, they are not gone. They are not absent. Just like Jesus, or any of the bodiless sidhas, they watch over our practice whenever somebody sits to meditate, and invites that guru-force to meditate through them, the sidhas are watching and make their presence in your mind and you have a beautiful meditation. You go somewhere and a renewed beautiful, peaceful, joyful experience arises in your mind. This is the quality of the relationship of the guru dharma. Do not be confused with the text of Guru Gita. Let the text simply be a description about the guru to bring more interest into the real personal presence of that force in life. My experience, my inner experience of the guru is without name and form and without identity or dependence. There is a quiet presence in my meditation, a loving, joyful presence like a mother wrapping a shawl. When I have that feeling and when I hear the voice talking without words then I really do know that I am loved. So that’s the Guru I wanted to share with you tonight.
Let us sit in silence that will be followed by evening prayers.
Satsang was given to the Meditation Center Community on Thursday 22nd June 2023 by way of Zoom, and archived as Vimeo. This is an edited version of the original talk along with editorial comments.