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Your Questions Answered
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 57: The Guru-Disciple Relationship

Suzanne: This is a long question, so I am making it into two parts.

Swamiji: The answer will be short.

Suzanne: This question is for everybody, not only for me. It will be in the context of disciples – not only seekers and devotees – who are not in the physical proximity of the Guru.

Swamiji: The disciple is not in the physical proximity of the?

Suzanne: Some are, but for those who are not, can the Guru know what is happening?

Swamiji: What happened?

Suzanne: Anything very serious in his life, because he has total faith in the Guru, which is an omnipresence.

Swamiji: In everybody's life something happens. There is no one in whose case something will not happen. So, what is your special question?

Suzanne: Suppose a disciple says, "I have faith. I am going and living by myself. I see my Guru off and on; he sees me, he blesses me. The Guru says, "Go. You don't need to be near me. Do whatever you have to do in life." So, the disciple believes that nothing really drastic will happen to him. But, still it happens. I understand, Swamiji, that everything can happen to anybody. . .

Swamiji: You mean to say that something that you call drastic should not happen to a person?

Suzanne: Can it be prevented by the Guru? Is he aware that it is happening? My question is whether the Guru is aware of it, or not.

Swamiji: The happenings in one's life are not the creation of the Guru, nor is he responsible for it. Whatever happens to you is because of the impact created by whatever you thought and did in your previous life. Now, you want to say that the actions that you did in the previous life should not produce their effect?

Suzanne: No. Does the Guru know? Is he aware that it is happening?

Swamiji: If he knows, in what way are you benefited by that?

Suzanne: I want to know if he knows.

Swamiji: Let him know. In what way are you concerned with that? You want him to stop the impact of the previous actions?

Suzanne: No, no. This is cause and effect. I understand. It is prarabdha karma.

Swamiji: If your heart is absolutely united with the soul of the Guru, he will respond, and he will guide, and he may even mitigate certain adverse consequences of the impact of past karmas, but he cannot remove it. For instance, when a doctor performs a surgery, there is pain whenever a limb is cut off, but the pain is mitigated by an anesthesia. So, God or Guru, whoever it is, may act as an anesthesia when some unpleasant experiences have to be passed through, but they cannot stop the experiences. These will have to be experienced. You will have to pay for whatever you have done.

Suzanne: Even death?

Swamiji: Death, of course, who can avoid it?

Suzanne: Sometimes it is avoided, Swamiji. We have read in books by great souls that have pushed it away a bit.

Swamiji: Why are you against death?

Suzanne: I am not against it. It is not personally for me, Swamiji.

Swamiji: Do you want to live like an old lady for eternity?

Suzanne: No, Swamiji, I am already too old.

Swamiji: Then why did you say that death should not be there? Death is the process of the transformation of the whole personality into a new one, which is perhaps better than the present one. So, who can say that death is bad? The whole universe is undergoing a process of evolution, and evolution is nothing but the cessation of the previous condition, and the coming in of the new condition. Do you want the evolutionary process to stop completely?

Suzanne: No, it may be very good. But, all this is happening with, or without, the knowledge of the Guru?

Swamiji: What you call death is the cessation of the earlier condition, creating a new condition which you call rebirth. It is neither good nor bad; it is a necessity. What is your point, finally?

Suzanne: My point is always the awareness of the Guru.

Swamiji: If he is aware of what is happening to you, in what way are you benefited?

Suzanne: Then, why should we have a guru, if we are not benefited?

Swamiji: In fact, God Himself knows what is happening to you. Then, why do you want a Guru? When God Himself is capable of knowing whatever happens to you, why do you want a smaller god?

Suzanne: There is no smaller god. There is only one God.

Swamiji: Then, you may call him the Guru. So, there cannot be many gurus then. There is only one Guru, and everybody is a disciple of one guru only.

Suzanne: Yes, but they don't think like that, Swamiji. Each one says they have their separate gurus. So, what is the point?

Swamiji: There is a Guru of gurus who will not die and vanish from your sight, because He is timeless, unconditioned by the process of time. Catch hold of him. Then all the gurus will immediately manifest themselves, and no problem will be there for you. Perhaps you are thinking that the Guru is a human person. This is what you are thinking?

Suzanne: No. It starts like this. The contact is like this.

Swamiji: The Guru is not the anatomical framework of a person that you are seeing with your eyes. It is the life that is operating through that frame of body; otherwise, what is the difference between a Guru and a disciple? Both are anatomically the same, physiologically the same. They eat the same food, breathe the same breath, and have the same normal experiences; but there is a difference. The difference is that there is a light which inundates the Guru's personality, which is not so pointedly present in other people. The Guru is consciousness operating as a mentor or guarding angel.

You say sometimes that a great man is coming. When you say this, it does not mean that a great body is coming. It does not mean that. The greatness of a person does not lie in the length and breadth of the body of that person. It depends upon the consciousness that is operating inside. The greatness is the intensity of consciousness radiating in a person. When consciousness is clouded, and is not operating well, it looks like an ordinary creature moving.

If your heart is united with a thing, that thing will know what is happening to you. It may be the Guru, or anything else; even a tree will respond to you, provided your heart is sunk in it.

Suzanne: Swamiji, it means that the awareness of the seeker or disciple has become the universe of consciousness also, though it may be of a different degree than the teacher?

Swamiji: Yes, right. If your heart is united with a thing, whatever it is, that thing will respond to you like a mother. The Ganga will speak to you, the mountains of the Himalayas will speak, the sun and the moon and the stars will speak. Everybody is your friend here. They are all Gurus only.