Sunday, March 12, 2006

How to find a spiritual master

(second edition)

The final religious activity for all human beings is devotion for the Supreme Lord, Whom is found way beyond empirical speculation.

The revealed truth comes without contamination through a particular process called, in Sanskrit, Parampara, meaning disciplic succession. We must connect ourselves with a trustworthy succession. Only then can we find what is truly genuine. Authorised association is necessary. The spiritual master is necessary.

We must receive true knowledge from the appropriate source, in the disciplic succession that starts with the Lord Himself; Whom is the Supreme Spiritual Master. Such knowledge has been passed down through a succession of spiritual masters.

“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master, inquire from him and serve him in a submissive way. The self-realised soul can pass on to you true knowledge because he has seen the Truth.” Bhagavad Gita, chapter 4, text 34.

To error is human, and inevitable for all of us, as we are not perfect. Without a doubt, no one wants to stay imperfect. There exists an element within all of us that is animated towards perfection. If this were not so, we would not have aspirational desires. Our tendency towards perfection is certainly very weak and limited; if not, we could easily acquire to out goal of perfection. Thus, our limited capacity towards our goal of perfection means that there is a need for a spiritual master.

Dear friend, a spiritual master is the person that teaches us the Truth. In Indian culture, having a spiritual master was so important, so basic, that every person when they reached 12 years of age, searched for their spiritual master and received the sacred mantras. The spiritual master gave instructions, based in the Vedic culture, on how to attain self-realization and how to practice the sacred science of yoga.

The spiritual master is a great necessity for all of us. In our modern society, we have a master for everything: a master for computers, a master for marketing, a master for mechanics; but we do not have masters that teach us the science of the soul and how to awaken the eternal love in our heart.

In order to find a spiritual master; the principal requirement is a desire to find him. This means that one should be ready to eliminate our errors made in life and accept the virtues that bring one to spiritual perfection. The process of finding a spiritual master is explained in the Vedic scriptures; we start with a prayer asking that the Supreme Lord guide us towards the master that will teach us how to come to Him. The original spiritual master is in our heart; he is the Supersoul, Paramatma. He is the internal voice, our intuition, the guardian angel. He knows everything and everyone, and is always our protector, instructing us on our path towards the Light. When we desire to have a spiritual master, we request assistance from Paramatma, so that He will give us intelligence and show us the way towards Him.

The first prayer that we should make is taken from the Ramayana, an Indian classic: "Oh my Lord, I do not know who You are, or where You are, but You, who are omnipotent and omniscient, please hear my prayer. Today I beg You to take charge of my life, I surrender myself to You; but I have a great problem, I don't know what You want from me. From now on, my life will be Yours. I am going to eliminate everything from my life that I understand that You don't like, and am going to try to apply and practice in my life everything that my heart tells me that You do like!" When a devotee, a yogi, a sincere spiritual soul, prays in this way, the Lord from there on takes charge of his path.

The spiritual master is called "guru"; "gu" is obscurity and "ru" means he who removes it from us. He tells us the Truth even if it hurts us, and he keeps us occupied in the common cause, in loving service to God. He also shows us the path of yoga, teaches us the techniques of meditation, and allows us to enter his family. We are able to find a spiritual master solely due to the infinite mercy of the Lord who knows everything. The spiritual masters come from a chain of masters in a disciplic succession; they practice spiritual life, humility, simplicity and they are always ready to help their disciples. When the devotee finds his spiritual master, he prays to him in this manner:

om ajñana timirandasya jñanam jñana salakaya
caksur unmilitan yena tasmai sri gurave namah.

"I offer my most humble obeisances to my spiritual master who has opened my eyes, which were blinded by ignorance, with the torch light of knowledge."

In order to accelerate the process of finding a spiritual master, we should become vegetarians, refrain from intoxicating our bodies, be chaste, meaning to be faithful to one's wife or husband, and to eliminate all useless gambling games. In addition, we should try to dedicate ourselves during the day to chant the Mahamantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. We should read the "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" and join with persons who have a spiritual master, or who are also searching for one.

We should offer our food to God. We can do this with the same Mahamantra; in this way, we can ask Him to help us with the details of our spiritual path so that everything that comes to us, allows us to advance spiritually. A person that searches for a spiritual master with sincerity is going to find him, one way or another. He manifests himself in a dream, in a personal encounter, in a book, or in any form that God chooses to send His confidential representative to guide him, or her, to you.

Spiritual masters establish a common cause and allow us to enter into a family of devotees, where there are many persons struggling for the same cause, in harmony, without selfishness and without competition; giving each one of their members a refuge, a place of enthusiasm, that is an oasis in the middle of the desert of material existence. Life without a spiritual master is like a beautiful home, but without a roof. I hope that you are successful in your search, and in your encounter with your spiritual master, and that you are serious, so that you will be able to take advantage of this gift that you will receive by the mercy of God.

Teachings of Sripad Paramadvaiti Swami
Edition Gopananda dasa


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