Does a guru look for students?

By Julian Ochoa

Jiddu Krishnamurti rejected the title of world teacher or guru. He taught his listeners that to find the path to enlightenment they had to “do it yourself”. However, he has been misunderstood by many when he said in his many speeches, similar ideas to the following quote: “You yourself are the teacher and the pupil; you are the Master; you are the guru; you are the leader; you are everything.”[1] This type of comments have been taken out of context, it is true that there is a “fundamental unity”  among all sentient beings, but that does not make us ordinary humans omniscient, free of karma and  free of responsibilities. Today one can find thousands of influencers, self-professed gurus and spiritual teachers charging money for initiations and spiritual information that is free online or in the great libraries of the world. 

One would think that with more information available, that there would be more tools to have a greater discernment about what teaching, or tradition would be more suitable to their character. However, the democratisation of spiritual knowledge has opened the flood gates to the emergence of multi-level spiritual groups and gurus that charge thousands of dollars offering spiritual teachings, that supposedly came from their contact with aliens, ascended masters, voices or from an epiphany they had. 

Radha Burnier says the following on the matter:

“The average Guru directs people what to do, what to think, what to wear. There are Gurus who like personal worship, who like their feet to be washed, who like being attended upon. There are some who claim to be greater even than the Buddha Himself. On the other hand, the letters of the Masters reflect the humility and the anonymity in which they prefer to remain. Real teachers indulge in no self-publicity or self-glorification because there is no self in them. So, there is a difference between those who are usually considered Gurus and the Masters as they are described in Theosophical literature. Personal worship, self-glorification, telling other people what to do, making them dependent, teaching them beliefs, imposing ideas on them, collecting money and becoming rich, having swimming-pools and private airplanes— all this is accepted as part of present-day Guru-dom but it is entirely incompatible with being a true spiritual Teacher or Master.”[2]

In the book Masters and The Path Charles Webster Leadbeater gives insights into who a Master or Guru maybe: 

“The historical records of every nation are full of the doings of men of genius in all the different departments of human activity, men who in their special lines of work and ability have stood far above the rest– indeed, so far that at times (and probably more often than we know) their ideals were utterly beyond the comprehension of the people, so that not only the work that they may have done has been lost to mankind, but their very names even have not been preserved. It has been said that the history of every nation could be written in the biography of a few individuals, and that it is always the few, towering above the rest, who initiate the great forward steps in art, music, literature, science, philosophy, philanthropy, statecraft, and religion. They stand high sometimes in love of God and their fellow-men, as great saints and philanthropists; sometimes in understanding of man and Nature, as great philosophers, sages and scientists; sometimes in work for humanity, as great liberators and reformers. Looking at these men, and realizing how high they stand among humanity, how far they have gone in human evolution, is it not logical to say that we cannot see the bounds of human attainment, and that there may well have been, and even now may be, men far further developed even than they, men great in spirituality as well as knowledge or artistic power, men complete as regards human perfections—”[3]

Blavatsky says about the Masters: 

“No true adept will on any consideration whatever reveal himself as one, to the profane. Nor would he ever speak in such terms of contempt of people, who are certainly no more silly, and, in many an instance, far wiser than himself. But were even the Theosophists the poor misled creatures he would represent them to be, a true adept would rather help than deride them.”[4]

There is an old adage that says  “When the pupil is ready, the Master will appear,” this statement is well known, it is profound and yet misunderstood. Some people think that just thinking, I am ready, or having read a series of books on a particular topic, makes you ready to meet a master of sorts, or that just by knowing certain concepts or intricate words, it automatically makes you enlightened. 

To be truly ready means that the student has undergone extensive self-introspection, study, meditation, and does self-less service in the community, the student must be a decent and respectful human being. Having done all that, does not mean that a master will appear magically. In fact, the master does not come to your door, or sends you a text message instructing you about what to read next. What the student needs to do, is to rise to the level of the master, it is not the other way around. 

On the spiritual path, discernment must exist, or one can be driven into different paths. With such great amount of information and teachers out there, it is difficult to be able to determine what is the right path to take, and who is the right teacher to follow. 

There is a passage in the Hindu scripture of the Bhagavad-Gita that says: 

“Let no wise man unsettle the mind of ignorant people attached to action; but acting in harmony with Me let him render all action attractive.”[5]

Further on in the same chapter it repeats it in another way: 

“The man of perfect knowledge should not unsettle the foolish whose knowledge is imperfect.”[6]

In the first quote it can be said that a real teacher is not one who is forcing people to believe in his own ideas or compels them to lead a life they do not want or need. A real teacher is one who leads an exemplary life, not by seeking attention or recognition, but by putting the ancient wisdom into practice in every aspect of their life. 

Spirituality is completely commercialised, the teachings have no teachers, every one is a guru. Nowadays, it is common to say that we are all gods, this is a very cunning way of evading responsibility for ones actions . If we are all masters, gurus and gods, one must question why there is much misery and hatred in the world instead of harmony and peace. Modern teachers tell their students that they do not need to study the ancient wisdom as we all know these teachings from past lives therefore, we do not  need to study them again. These new age teachers go on to say, that there is no “darkness,” that all is good, no matter what we do, say, or think, we are totally free of karma and are guiltless of everything. It seems that spirituality is now just another product of the world we have created, another gadget to put on our shelves so we can feel good about ourselves…

CEOs meditate to have sharper minds, we have meditation apps and compete with one another to meditate, we are all yoga masters, we pray in places where everyone can see us, we collect salt lamps, crystals, dream catchers, tarot cards, runes, we are reiki masters; some also collect linages and transmissions, many take peyote and ayahuasca to cut corners to have mystical experiences… it appears that spirituality these days is all about doing whatever we want, without caring for the consequences of our actions…

The desecration of the sacred is not new. In the Bible the Son of God was quoted in his day to have demonstrated his disagreement with similar behaviours and attitudes towards the sacred: 

Matthew 21:12-13

King James Version

12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Bars and circuses are made of temples, rituals are forgotten, sacred traditions are thrown out, morality and ethics are words in old books. In the winds you hear the voices of revolutionaries say: Its just a building, these teachings are old fashion, these teachings are of another age, we are all masters, we don’t need gurus, we don’t need religions we know it all..

In the meantime in the midst of all the noise the ancient wisdom prevails… 

Those that truly seek, quietly knock on the door…

J. Krishnamurti,  At the feet of the Master says: 

“But even when the choice is made, you must still remember that of the real and the unreal there are many varieties; and discrimination must still be made between the right and the wrong, the important and the unimportant, the useful and the useless, the true and the false, the selfish and the unselfish.”[7]

“Between the right and wrong it should not be difficult to choose, for those who wish to follow the Master have already decided to take the right at all costs.” 

Further on he says:

“You must distinguish between truth and falsehood; you must learn to be true all through, in thought and word and deed.”

“Be true in action; never pretend to be other than you are, for all pretense is a hindrance to the pure light of truth, which should shine through you as sunlight shines through clear glass.” 

“You must discriminate between the selfish and the unselfish. For selfishness has many forms, and when you think you have finally killed it in one of them, it arises in another as strongly as ever. But by degrees you will become so full of thought for the helping of others that there will be no room, no time, for any thought about yourself.” 

Besides trying to keep a pure heart and an open mind, it is recommended that to maintain a more holistic spiritual life, one should, if possible, have vegetarian diet, some may argue that this or that spiritual guru ate meat, or smoked cigarettes, drank milk and that therefore the vegetarian or vegan diet has nothing to do with the spiritual path. However, Industrial farming for meat and dairy products is causing tremendous suffering for billions of animals on a daily basis, therefore a vegetarian diet and if possible a vegan diet makes sense from the point of view compassion… moreover, In studies in occultism by Blavatsky, she mentions that when one eats meat one absorbs the psychic characteristics of the animals we eat, although the writer of this paper is not a seer, it makes sense to think that the stress and suffering of the animals also stays imprinted in the meat, milk, and eggs. And that`s  without considering the chemicals the animals are fed to grow faster. If one wants to have a pure life, a vegetarian or vegan life needs to be taken into consideration. No one can really speak on behalf of Blavatsky`s teachers and say that they would not consider a vegan diet considering the cruelty in which animals live and die today. 

C. W. Leadbeater in his book Vegetarianism and Occultism said the following about the matter:

Every religion has taught that man should put himself always on the side of the will of God in the world, on the side of good as against evil, of evolution as against retrogression. The man who ranges himself on the side of evolution realises the wickedness of destroying life; for he knows that, just as he is here in this physical body in order that he may learn the lessons of this plane, so is the animal occupying his body for the same reason, that through it he may gain experience at his lower stage. He knows that the life behind the animal is the Divine Life, that all life in the world is Divine; the animals therefore are truly our brothers, even though they may be younger brothers, and we can have no sort of right to take their lives for the gratification of our perverted tastes – no right to cause them untold agony and suffering merely to satisfy our degraded and detestable lusts.”[8]

Another aspect to bear in mind for those on the path, is happiness, it is important to be contempt and free to smile at all moments, life is difficult and stressful for many,  a smile can lessen the weight of difficulties of those around you, a smile can disarm an angry person and uplift a depressed soul. We always need to radiate happiness if we intend to rise where the light shines most. How can the legacy of theosophy remain if it’s not with a smile of hope?

C.W. Leadbeater quoted in his book Masters and The Path: “it is impossible to make progress on the occult Path without a sense of humour.”[9]

When asked to the Dalai Lama about humour and Laughter he said the following: 

“His Holiness responded that all human beings are brothers and sisters, each of whom has positive as well as negative potential. Destructive emotions destroy our peace of mind and spoil our relations with our family and friends. Compassion, laughter and a genuine smile, on the other hand, put others at ease and create a happy atmosphere.”[10]

In At the feet of the Master J.K. says about cheerfulness: 

“You must bear your karma cheerfully, whatever it may be, taking it as an honour that suffering comes to you, because it shows that the Lords of Karma think you worth helping. However hard it is, be thankful that it is no worse. Remember that you are of but little use to the Master until your evil karma is worked out, and you are free. By offering yourself to Him, you have asked that your karma may be hurried, and so now in one or two lives you work through what otherwise might have been spread over a hundred. But in order to make the best out of it, you must bear it cheerfully, gladly. 

Yet another point. You must give up all feeling of possession. Karma may take from you the things which you like best- even the people whom you love most. Even then you must be cheerful- ready to part with anything and everything. Often the Master needs to pour out His strength upon others through His servant; He cannot do that if the servant yields to depression. So cheerfulness must be the rule.” [11]

… We cannot buy our way to heaven or to enlightenment, there is no quick fix, there is no amount of orders that can reveal the truth, it does not matter how many mantrams and passwords one learns, that is a way but it is not the way to that exalted path. The Path starts from our heart and it ends in our heart… 

To conclude the following quote from the Voice of the Silence with a commentary by Clara Codd clarifies some ideas:

“Prepare thyself for thou wilt have to travel on alone. The teacher can but point the way. The path is one for all, the means to reach the goal must vary with the pilgrims.” 

Clara Codd`s Commentary: 

“Let us consider that. We always think the teacher can tell us exactly how to tread the way and save us much trouble, but the teacher can only point the way, we shall have to travel it alone, especially in the beginning. It is then we feel more alone. Dr Alexis Carroll in that book of his called Reflections on Living, says, ‘This path begins in mists of Earth and ends in the light of Heaven.’ It always begins in the mists of earth. Everybody feels they do not really know the way; they are just groping after something and they feel very much alone. But all the steps we have apparently to take by ourselves. However,the mists clear as time goes on, and our deepening sensitivity increases, because, as the Master said to Laura Holloway,‘gradually, gradually the mists will clear — your attraction to us becomes stronger.’ That happens as we go along.”  

“Gradually, gradually the mists will clear.”

[1] Krishnamurti, J. “Ojai 3rd Public Talk 5th November 1966,” (2022). 

[2] Burnier, R. “Masters and Gurus,” No Other Path To Go, Theosophical Publishing House (1985). 

[3] Leadbeater, C.W. (1927), “Masters and The Path,“ Theosophical Publishing House Adyar Madras India, (2022). 

[4], “Madam Blavatsky On “The Himalayan Brothers,”” H.P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles Vol. 1, (2022). 

[5] The Bhagavad-Gita (Translated 1903) Besant, A. “The Bhagavad-Gita,” London and Benares Theosophical Publishing Society (1903) pg:13.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Krishnamurti, J. (1900) “At The Feet of The Master by Alcyone,” Theosophical Publishing House, , (2022).

[8] Leadbeater, C.W. (1913), “Vegetarianism and Occultism,” Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar Chennai (Madras) India November 1913, (2022). 

[9] Leadbeater, C.W. (1927), “The Masters And The Path,” The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar Madras India (1927), (2022). 

[10] Central Tibetan Administration, (2020), “Conversations about happiness, humour and compassion,” (2022). 

[11] Krishnamurti, J. (1900) “At The Feet of The Master by Alcyone,” Theosophical Publishing House,  (2022).