It was during my stay in Belgium that I received an unexpected phone call. I had lost my father. I felt a vacuum, which I never experienced before. The mere thought that he existed used to comfort me and gave me the courage to pursue my path.
As I go back to my childhood in India, I remember waking up to the reverberating sounds of mantra chants from my father’s room. Back then, it sounded all mystical but I was never drawn to God. Steeped in a science-based schooling curriculum, I smugly looked at evidence-based thinking to question my parent’s beliefs in God. I rationalized that is a man-made concept. As an obedient son, I used to accompany my parents to temples in Kerala but avoided entering the temples. I was instead happy in a convenient relationship with God by seeking favors for passing the school exam and dropping money into the local donation box.
Looking back, I am grateful to my parents that they never imposed their beliefs on me. However, my father was clear about one thing – We should bow down only to God and not before a Guru. There have been instances, where some Gurus have taken advantage and broken the trust of their followers. Hence my father was circumspect about people who follow a Guru.
My parents had only one piece of advice: Don’t harm others and Be Good.
The void feeling never left and started to gnaw at me. For inexplicable reasons, I started feeling a sense of purposelessness. I came back to India. I turned to books of various genres for solace. For comfort, I visited temples and continued my convenient relationship with God.
Through books and writing, I learned how both needy and self-assured people had taken refuge in spiritual gurus at important junctures of their lives. I remember reading with piqued interest how Steve Jobs visited Kainchi Dham Ashram for inspiration before he started Apple, and how he gave the same advice to Mark Zuckerberg to visit the Ashram during the early days of Facebook. Creators like Newton, Einstein, Tesla, and Ramanujan have attributed their discoveries to an unknown energy, which has sprung from the deepest recesses of their source. Socrates, during his final trials, passionately argued that his involvement with philosophy and his efforts to convey ideas is a response to a divine dictate, made known to him “from divinations, dreams and all sorts of godly signs”. I saw them as no less than Mystical Gurus who knew how to tap their inner source for the greater good of humanity.
How to contact your inner guru
A desire took birth within my heart to be connected to a Guru, who can nudge me on the right path.
It is said that once the student is ready, the master will appear.
At the iconic Amrit Book Stall in New Delhi, I was drawn to a book – “If Truth be Told “ – written by Om Swami. I skimmed through the pages and felt it must be a similar book in the mold of Robin Sharma. I was going to put it back on the shelf when the attendant said to me that it was a new release and that I should try it out.
The book struck a raw chord with me, and I spent a sleepless night, as I carried the book till the wee hours of dawn. I have read and fallen in love with many books, I have laughed and been part of the characters’ lives in various books, I have admired and sent fan mails to various authors, and I have read many spiritual books, but this was different. I could sense a strong connection – a past connection with the author, which was inexplicable and very unique to me. I have no rational explanation.
The Guru had found me and there was no looking back.
Within a month, I was in Badrika Ashram, situated in a remote valley at the foothills of the Himalayas. A voice that nudged me to find my inner guru had brought me to this place where divinity dwelled.
Om Swami, a monk, had renounced his multi-million dollar software business. He keeps away from a large following, rarely interacts with media, and earns his living through books and online writings. He has been extremely disciplined in writing a post on the 1st and 3rd Saturday o
f every month for the last 12 years.
“When you meet a real Guru, It’s just like butter melting in the presence of fire.”
As I listened to Om Swami (Swamiji, as I and most of His followers address Him), I knew in my heart that it was not I who had discovered Swamiji, but rather Swamiji had found me.
From a reluctant believer, who refused to enter temples to being a person who had surrendered to my Guru, I surprised myself.
What does a Guru mean?
Swamiji says that lasting transformation is akin to coloring a cloth with dye. If the cloth is colored too fast, then the color fades away quickly. However, if the cloth is dyed slowly, it is sustainable and long-lasting. It is now 7 years since Swamiji found me. He is my spiritual parent.
After meeting Swamiji, I have started on the road to self-discovery. With taking baby steps towards meditation, mindfulness, mantra chanting, writing, reading, and incorporating a sense of discipline in daily routines. It is not that I have stopped facing the routine challenges of life after meeting my Guru. As I walk during summer on the sunny streets of Copenhagen, I still have dark clouds of self-doubt creeping over me. I still find myself swallowing my pride in mindfulness after losing my temper with my wife and son after making an oft-stated remark. I still find myself brooding over an old schoolmate’s achievements. I still find myself slacking in discipline and finding an excuse through procrastination. Sometimes, I think I am still at ground zero, and everything is an illusion of the mind.
However what has changed me is the shift in perspective, which I would never have realized without Swamiji. I find my answer through his writings and aim to orient my life around the following principles:
- There is a certain randomness in life, and hence, Divine Grace is the most important thing in life. It is very important to build and conserve spiritual reserves so that we can draw on them when we hit a rough patch.
- Earlier I used to hold the opposite person responsible for my choices in life. Now I am increasingly aware that we alone are responsible for our choices and the consequences of those choices. I am aware that every other person is going through their individual journey, and our conduct with others should not be based on how they behave with us. In the final analysis, it was never between me and them, it was always between me and God. We should do the best, which befits our resources and conduct, and leave the rest to God.
- Finding a greater cause to pursue beyond our daily routine is imperative, but we should not waste time searching for a grandiose purpose. The beauty of life is in simplicity and it is good to start with simple steps, than never start at all.
We have mentors and life coaches for various facets of life, be it business, sports, music and even writing. However, a Spiritual Guru encompasses all aspects of life. He is the parent who taught us to cycle in our childhood. He has his hand on the ledge, while we uncomfortably paddle our balance on the trough of the road. Once we find our balance on the road, our parents set us free to travel on the road.
I know from experience that once we are open and start looking for it, the right Guru will automatically appear in front of us. If you do not feel the connection, then he is not the right Guru.
In our quest to be hyper-connected, we are losing our sense of belonging. We have forgotten the primal knowledge on how to first follow and connect with our own selves – our inner source.
A real Guru will guide us to reach out for our inner recess and look inward and discover the Guru within us. He will not bind us, but will set us free once we discover the Guru within us.
Be Open, Be Ready – Allow the Guru to awaken our Inner Guru.