In Indian culture, having a master is not just considered as a matter of pride, but mandatory. Not having a master was looked down upon as being an orphan, being poor and a sign of misfortune. The word ‘Anatha’ in Sanskrit means one without a master. An ‘Acharya’ (teacher) gives ‘Shiksha,’ which means knowledge. Guru gives ‘Diksha,’ which means heightened awareness. A guru does not simply fill you with knowledge, but he kindles the life force in you. In the presence of the guru, you become more alive. The pinnacle of intellect is awakened intelligence. The guru invokes not only intelligence, but also the intellect in you. Knowledge may not invoke intelligence, but in a state of intelligence, knowledge is inherent.
The guru principle pervades your life. Your mother is your first guru, and then from science to spirituality, from birth to death, guru principle permeates your life. There is a guru for every discipline: a religious guru (dharma), a family guru (kula), a Rajguru (guru for the kingdom), a Vidhya guru (guru for a particular discipline) and a Sadguru (spiritual guru). In the Upanishads, five signs of a Sadguru are mentioned. In the presence of a sadguru, knowledge flourishes (gyana raksha), sorrow diminishes (dukha kshaya), joy wells up without any reason (sukha aavirbhava), abundance dawns (samriddhi) and all talents manifest (sarva samvardhan).
Once you have found a sadguru, remember that he or she is always there with you, watching and giving you wisdom. Spiritual path is not a path of learning more; it is a path of unlearning. There is no end to learning, but there is an end to unlearning and unlearning can be complete. Enlightenment is unlearning. That means, if the path is endless, then that is no path. The true path is one that takes you home and kindles that love deep in you.
Only unlearning takes you home, but the mind is ambitious. It wants to learn; it wants to learn this and that. The ambitious mind keeps looking for new things and you get fooled everywhere. It cannot attain anything. It’s the ambition that becomes a hindrance. An intention to learn more is essential, but you should not let it become too much, like feverishness. A little bit of salt in the food is good, but if the salt is more than a pinch, you cannot eat the food. It is the desire for something higher that motivates you, that moves you. If there is no salt in the food, you cannot eat that food. It doesn’t taste good, and it’s the same with too much salt in the food.
Feverishness for enlightenment itself is also a hindrance. Attachments cause feverish breath and feverish breath takes away peace of mind. Real freedom is the freedom from the future and freedom from the past. When you are not happy with the present moment, you desire for a bright future. Desire simply means that the present moment is not alright. This causes tension in the mind. Every desire causes feverishness. In a state of feverishness, meditation doesn’t happen. You may sit with eyes closed, but desires keep arising, thoughts keep arising. You fool yourself that you are meditating. Without fighting the attachments, observe the feverish breath and go to the cool place of silence within. As long as some desires linger in your mind, you cannot be at total rest.