Prashant Iyengar’s address at RIMYI July 3 2023 on the occassion of Guru Purnima.
These are my notes are taken from his lecture. ANy mistakes and misunderstandings are mine.
We have gathered here for guru purnima. Guru is not a teacher. We can be mistaken about this these days.
Guru is an institution and a principle. Why do we require a guru?
For any animal, cattle, bird, insect, worm. They don’t have to get trained to be what they are. Elephants don’t have to go anywhere to be trained to be an elephant. They don’t have to go to any academy to learn what they are. But human beings need to know what is a human being. By just being a human being we don’t remain human beings. We have to become human beings. We all think we are human beings but our species has a lot to become – to become is not a natural or spontaneous process.
Like a cockroach is born, it will become a cockroach, full fledged – it is a natural process. If they are born they become, when we are born, we have to become. Just by taking birth as human beings we are not always human beings. We can be in body form human, but a human being can be worse than subhuman. A human being can be venomous than a cobra – we can put cobras to shame. Human beings put to shame divinities and gods. The gods are put to shame by lofty human beings. The range of human beings is to be the lowest subhuman, to the highest human being that puts the gods to shame.
Animals have been here for thousands of years. Humans experience generation by generation there is a change. How were you when you were 4 years old, how do you see a child today who is 4 years old. Humans change generation by generation.
To be a human being we have certain rights, responsibilities, duties. Animals don’t need the principle of a guru since they don’t have a duty or right or responsibility. Humans say – this is our right, that is our right. So we need someone to tell us about our responsibilities and duties.
What does a mosquito owe to our planet, our solar system, our galaxy? Nothing.
But when it is a human being, it is a lot. We owe a lot.
Human beings need to identify this – we don’t just owe just to those around us, to humanity, our family, we owe something at large to the entire life on the planet, life forms in the ocean, to life forms beyond this planet. If you are a human being you OWE.
Many of us take pride – I don’t owe anything to anyone. The whole world owes to me. This is fiscal dimension. So when we are born as human beings we need to be told about “ what is a human being”. Not just make aware of our rights, but our duties and responsibilities. Basically, we owe.
The moment we are born, we become debtors. Who will tell you what you owe? We are a timeless existence. If someone says I don’t owe anything – what about your last life? We don’t see this because we don’t believe in our timeless existence. This is our reality.
Animals are also eternal but they don’t have to be told about it but human beings need to be told about it and you owe a lot. We are born with lots of debts on our shoulders. Who is going to tell us? This is why there is the institution of Guru to tell us who are we? Where are we and from whence we came. This is not the question from the buffalo – it is just here.
For us it is a matter of inquiry.
For us to know that we owe something, we need a guru. You have a sense of responsibility and you want to clear out your debts.. Who is going to tell us? The Guru is part of the archetypal scheme and a principle embedded in us – adhyatma – all that is within you. That cannot be sighted by a body scan or radiological insight. How does someone become responsible from within? We owe a lot to the whole universe?
We owe nature to our ancestors. Today we speak of genetic background – we only blame for negative inheritances, we don’t identify any positives in us from our ancestors. We all have ancestors. But we also had a previous life. In this previous life we had another ancestry. Our we not supposed to owe them something? We have some duties to them. Our previous life creditors. We are indebted to so many people for so many reasons. Who is going to tell you? What is the way out?
The Guru principle – the Isvara topic – will tell you your ancestors in your life, in your previous lives. The eternal principle Guri who has looked at your journeys and what you have done and what you have to do. The Guru is competent in the archetypal scheme and will show you your dharma. A Guru is not a teacher but someone who maintains the records. Who tells you about your reality. Guru tells you what you are. We need a perceptor and it is provided by the archetypal plan – selfology.
Adhyatma has to touch us and we have to be touched by adhyatma. Adhyatma sadhana is the way to clear the debts – once you are debt free you are liberated.
Your Guru had a guru – we owe something to all Gurus going back ad infinitum.
So we have responsibility to the entire universe – the guru will tell you, guide you, help you, help you clear the debts – this is a guru. Iis inevitable that we have a guru and if we don’t have a mortal guru, the guru principle is embedded and provided within us – it is a principle within us. That is why guru purnima has such significance. Don’t mistake it for father’s day, mothers day, teachers day. It is not such a day. Dispelling the darkness with light. Enlightenment: it is the guru principle provided within us. If you don’t find one in life, you have it within you. If we need something we are given something. The archetypal scheme provides.
Our satsanga – listen to noble thoughts, to noble people teaching noble things. There’s so much literature for us – Rig Ved, Bhagavad Gita, so we will really know what we are. The literature has been transmitted to us. We have all possible ways to get to know who we are. It is so fascinating.
If you are once shown the mirror – the moment you see a mirror you look at your form, your reflection. But suppose you were given an x-ray or an MRI – are you obsessed with looking at the MRI day after day? How many times will you look at your face in the mirror- we are never tired of it . From when we are 16-17 now we are 86 and 96 – nobody looks at you but you look at the mirror
That is the outermost gate of knowing oneself, There are so many layers where the glass mirrors won’t work. There are so many forms of you – who is going to tell you there is something beyond this? Who is going to tell you that there is something beyond that ? We have responsibility to “Know thyself ‘
There is no thyself for a buffalo or a bedbug but there is a responsibility to know thyself as a human being. The human being will become human through the wisdom of the guru, the touch and principle. The Guru is indispensable.
Aim at “know thyself” This is why we need a guru.