Extract from a talk by Mrinalini Mata SRF

God sent us into this world to play a divine drama. As individualized images of the Lord Himself, our lives have a singular purpose: to learn; and through learning, to grow; and through continual growth, to express ultimately our true nature and return to our original state of oneness with God.

This God-created universe runs by orderly cosmic law, and the guru-disciple relationship is rooted in that law. It is divinely ordained that he who seeks God shall be introduced to Him through a true guru. When a devotee sincerely desires to know God, his guru comes. Only one who knows God can promise the disciple: “I will introduce you to Him.” A true guru has already found his way to God; therefore he can say to the chela, “Take my hand. I will show you the way.” The guru-disciple relationship encompasses the disciplines and principles of right action which the disciple must follow to prepare himself to know God. When the disciple, with the guru’s help, perfects himself, the divine law is fulfilled, and the guru introduces him to God.

The first principle of the covenant between guru and chela is loyalty. Ego, the consciousness and self-assertion of the little “I”, is the one thing that keeps us from God. Banish the ego, and in that moment one realizes he is, ever has been, and ever will be one with God. The ego is a cloud of delusion surrounding the soul, veiling and diffusing its pure consciousness with endless misconceptions about the nature of oneself and of the world. One effect of the ego delusion is fickleness. As the Truth-seeker begins to manifest his divine soul qualities, he banishes this unreliable tendency of human nature and becomes a loyal and understanding person. Loyalty to the guru is one of the most important steps of discipleship. Most human beings have not perfected the quality of loyalty even toward their own flesh and blood, or husband, wife or friend. That is why the concept of loyalty to the guru is not fully understood. To be a true disciple, the chela must be loyal to the guru sent by God: he must abide faithfully and one-pointedly by his guru’s teachings.

Loyalty is not narrowness. The heart that is loyal to God and his representative is magnanimous, understanding and compassionate towards all beings. Remaining centered in one-pointed unconditional loyalty to his own guru and his teachings, such a devotee beholds in correct perspective all other manifes-tations of Truth, according them due appreciation and respect.

Obedience or surrender to the guidance of the guru is another basic tenet of the guru-disciple relationship. Why this divine imperative? Man must learn obedience to a higher wisdom in order to overcome the stumbling block of ego and its self-made delusions. The disciple’s obedience must be sincere and wholehearted. To give lip-devotion to the guru and continue to behave according to the dictates of the ego’s bad habits is folly. He alone is the loser who cheats in his efforts on the spiritual path.

Humility is the wisdom that acknowledges One who is greater than ourselves. Most human beings worship the ego-self. But, as the disciple bows instead to the ideal of a greater Self, and to the guru as the instrument of the Divine whose aid he seeks in realizing that Self, he gains the humility necessary to tear down the imprisoning wall of ego, and feels within him an ever-expanding divine consciousness welling up from that greater Self.

The guru-disciple relationship also perfects in the chela the quality of faith. The world in which we live is founded on relativity, hence it is unstable. We know not from day to day whether our bodies are going to be well or beset by disease. True faith is born of experience of truth and reality, a direct knowledge and certainty of the divine forces sustaining all creation. Man is insincere because he has no such faith. The guru-disciple relationship calls for complete faith on the part of the disciple. To help the disciple to cultivate faith, the guru says, “Follow me; blindly if need be”. Ego impairs our vision, but the guru’s sight is always flawless. His eyes of wisdom are always open. To him there is no difference between yesterday, today and tomorrow.

The guru helps the disciple in countless ways. Perhaps greatest of them all, he inspires the chela through his exemplifi-cation of divine attributes: He is the “speaking voice of silent God”, and the incarnation of highest wisdom and purest love; he embodies the soul-qualities that reflect God; he symbolizes the way and the Goal. The guru also helps the disciple by assuming much of his burden of karma. He may also, at God’s behest, take on part of the mass karma of humanity. The Bible states that, “The Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). The guru also serves as a mirror reflecting the character image of the disciple. If a disciple stands before the mirror of his guru with reverence, devotion, faith, obedience and surrender, it will show him all the personal flaws and weaknesses that block his way to the Goal.

The disciple must learn to follow the guru by emulating his example and by practicing faithfully the Sadhana he gives. (Sadhana is the Indian term for spiritual discipline: the ‘do’s and don’ts” defined by the guru as necessary to the chela’s search for God.) By following these instructions sincerely and to the best of his ability, and by constant effort to please the guru through right behaviour, the disciple demolishes every ego-erected barrier between his will and the will of the guru as expressed through His wise precepts.

The guru is omnipresent. His help, his guidance, and his teachings prevail, not only for the brief years he dwells on earth, but forever. The guru’s help to sincere followers does not cease when he leaves his body as the consciousness of the true guru is eternal. His awareness of the disciple and his link with him are constant.

Vedic scriptures state that the spiritual effort of the disciple constitutes only twenty-five percent of the spiritual forces required to bring his soul back to God. An additional twenty-five percent is given through the blessings of the guru. The remaining fifty percent is bestowed by the grace of God.