The Mind of the GURU

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Item Code: IHL367
Author: Rajiv Mehrotra
Publisher: Hay House
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788189988852
Pages: 311
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Book Description

Rajiv Mehrotra, a personal student of the Dalai Lama, was educated at the universities of Delhi, Oxford and Columbia. for over three decades he was a familiar face on public television, notebly as the anchor of an in-depth, one-on-one talk show, In Conversations. The programme had the highest viewership ratings in India across all television news channels in its genre. He is currently secretary/trustee of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, managing trustee of the Public Service Broadcasting Trust and a trustee of the Norbulinka Institute of Tibetan Culture. He has been a judge of the Templeton Prize for Spirituality and has served on the governing councils of the Sri Aurobindo Society and the Film and Television Institute of India. An independent documentary film-maker, he has won several international and nine national awards. He was nominated a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum. His other books include: Thakur - A Biography of Sri Ramakrishna; The Essential Dalai Lama,; Understanding The Dalai Lama; All You Ever Wanted to Know from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Happiness, Life, Living, and Much More; and The Open Frame Reader. Unreeling the Documentary Film. Under publication is The Spirit of the Muse.


Forword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama




The Wheel of Dharma

Ocean of Wisdom (His Holiness the Dalai Lama)


Through the Mirror of Death (Sogyal Rinpoche)


Being and Interbeing (Thich Nhat Hanh)


The Truth beyond Thought (S. N. Goenka)


The Mind and the Body

Light on Bliss (B. K. S. Iyengar)


The Balance of Mind, Body and Spirit (T. V. K. Desikachar)


The Truth Is a Journey (Deepak Chopra)


The Yogi on Television (Swami Ramdev)


The Flay of the Divine

The Science of the Divine (Swami Ranganathananda)


With Kriya to Ananda (Swami Kriyananda)


The Embrace of Divine Love (Mata Amritanandamayi)


The Art of Living (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)


Transforming the Human Heart (Sister Jayanti)


The Knower and the Known

Transforming Consciousness (Acharya Mahapragya)


Spiritual Terrorism (U.G. Krishnamurti)


The Seer and the Seeker (Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan)


In the Footsteps of the Prophet (Maulana Wahiduddin Khan)


Everything is Consciousness (Radha Burnier)


The End of Knowledge (Swami Parthasarathy)


The Way of the Stars (K. N. Rao)


Psychiatry and the Spirit (Stanislav Grof)


The Ethics of Engagement

Restore Justice, Seek Reconciliation (Desmond Tutu)


Charity Destroys, Work Builds (Baba Amte)


Celebrate Diversity (The Aga Khan)


The Modern Guru (Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev)







Choosing a Guru

The Dalai Lama

I am very happy that the interviews that my friend Rajiv Mehrotra has condncted over the years with people from diverse religions and spiritual traditions are being made available as a collection. He has getly and intelligently encouraged a range of people who are recognized by many as gurus or teachers to reveal themselves and offer important insights about how to seek happiness and avoid suffering. I believe that extending our understanding of each other's spiritual practices and traditions like this can be an enriching experience, because to do so increases our opportunities for mutual respect. Sometimes, we, too, encounter something in another tradition that helps us better appreciate something in our own.

In our Buddhist tradition, someone becomes a guru only in relation to a disciple. There is no special authority to qualify someone as a spiritual teacher. You are a teacher because you have students.

From the student's point of view it is important not to be hasty in choosing someone as your spiritual teacher. To begin with, you should simply regard your teacher as a spiritual friend and closely observe his or her behaviour, attitudes and ways of teaching, until you are confident of his or her integrity.

Although some of the scriptures appear to advise it, I normally recommend that Buddhist practitioners do not try to view literally every action of their spiritual teacher as divine and noble. The scriptures clearly delineate the specific, demanding qualities that an required of a teacher. But if it should unfortunately occur that the teacher seems to behave in an unacceptable way, it is appropriate for students to be critical of it.

The Buddha advises in the sutras that where the teacher behaviour is wholesome, you should follow it, but where it is unwholesome, you should not. You do not simply excuse bad conduct because your teacher did it. You should identify what is improper and decide not to follow it. The scriptures also explicitly state that any advice your teacher gives you that is incompatible with the Buddhist way of life should be avoided.

The tantric texts often mention that all realization comes from the guru. This is true, but it can be understood in two different ways On the one hand, the guru is the human teacher we interact with; on the other hand, the guru is our own inner wisdom, our own fundamental clarity of mind.

We need the example of someone who, while human like ourselves, has greater knowledge, greater compassion and greater experience than we have. The Tibetan term for guru is 'lama' and the connotation of this word for teacher is someone who is the embodiment of knowledge and the embodiment of kindness. The important thing is that when we meet and get to know someone who has these qualities, we find them attractive and aspire to develop them ourselves. The living example this person presents us makes clear that to develop knowledge and kindness is a real possibility. And that, to my mind, is the purpose of the spiritual path.


For long I yearned for an all-knowing, enlightened and true spiritual master who would, with his touch, with the wave of the proverbial magical wand or at least a teaching or a technique, transmit insights, understanding and even powers that would enable me to transcend the deep, abiding incompleteness I felt in relating to myself and my world. If only, if only I could find someone to surrender to, whose spiritual embrace would yield the ultimate truths and realizations. What must it have been like for those who were touched by the Buddha, Christ or Sri Ramakrishna? And so I waited, struggling with an impatient patience for my karma to ripen, for the time to be right, for me to be ready, for my guru and me to find each other. There were many dark nights of the soul, of an unquenched yearning for someone who would lead me out of the abyss.

These conversations in The Mind of the Guru are part of that quest, seeking ways to find enduring happiness and to avoid suffering from those who seemed to have found it or at least were said to have or claimed to have. Through these exchanges no definitive, all-embracing answers emerged, no cataclysmic moments of liberating insight, only a search that continues now with greater certitude in that I have been privileged to meet at least some people who have gone much further on the journey towards transcending suffering and achieving a state of bliss.

I have often wished I had some grand insight or learning to show or share from my contact with some of the great minds of our times, many of whom have been inexplicably tolerant and patient with me. That I have little is a true reflection of my own lack than any comment on the many that have been so generous in giving me of themselves and of their time.

The journey has not yielded conclusive or definitive insights There have been small incremental steps gravitating to the Buddhist traditions. This has not been out of any conviction of its inherent superiority but as one most suited to my personal capacities and dispositions, and above all to the compassion and indulgence with which my root guru, Gyalwa Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, has taught and inspired me in the classical tradition of a preceptor giving personal religious instruction.

Within the realms of the 'sacred' itself the idea of the guru and the nature of the relationship of the student vary. For an aspirant it can range from a total surrender of one's self for a lifetime of teaching to a weekend's course in a technique that can promise anything from a regression to past lives, the ability to heal others, raise the kundalini or, if you are lucky, a vision of God with little effort and the grace of the guru, usually for a large fee.

The guru may feel deeply connected to the aspirant as if he has known him over several lifetimes and assume the responsibility of steering him through his spiritual evolution and look after his material needs, even to the extent that he is willing to take on this additional karma as his own; for others the relationship could become a commercial contract - an instrument of exploitation, affirming power and ego.

In contemporary discourse the notion of a guru has changed to represent anyone who is an intellectual or spiritual guide, who counsels or teaches or is regarded as a leader in a particular field The term is widely used to describe leaders in professions as varied as advertising, the stock market and the inventors of weapons of mass destruction.

In the context of these conversations, I have largely stayed with those who are considered gurus in the more traditional sense, of what might be broadly described as the spiritual, motivated by other than the purely material, engaged in the practice of altruism and a larger social responsibility bred of a commitment to teach and serve humanity. It is not necessary for a guru to wear robes or to be arenunciate.

In the spiritual traditions themselves the role of the guru varies. In Buddhism, for example, as in other philosophies that derive from ideas of non-duality (advaita), the striving is to awaken insight from within oneself, through one's own efforts, rather than in relationship to an external idea or intervention. A guru is someone who embodies a possibility, our own potential. He offers the inspiration that ordinary confused human beings might realistically aspire to liberating insights and in time lift the veils of ignorance that keep them from their true enlightened natures. The guru teaches and demonstrates the path. He does not ordinarily transmit some supernatural energy that catalyses dramatic and enduring transformation. Others have walked the walk but each walk is unique. The onus remains on us to make the effort, with the guru's help, and his compassion, even as we may waver often, to acquire the skilful means to make the journey.

If there has been a common strand from the teachings of the masters it is in the need for right effort and the striving to become a better, happier, more complete human being that is possible primarily through a rigorous sadhana, the bedrock of which is the practice of altruism and the cultivation of compassion. These help accumulate good karma or merit that through the simple yet profound principle of causality ultimately ripens to eradicate our delusions and consequently our suffering.

We can, using techniques appropriate for our individual personalities and abilities, cut through our delusions and obscurations to liberating insight. A traditional guru identifies and transmits them to us and helps us with course corrections. He is a compassionate, spiritual friend who has tread the path and empathizes when we falter, inspiring us to resume the journey, intervening when we err. There are really no enduring instant peaks of spiritual experience. There is continuing hard work, training and retraining the mind to break its sets so that ultimately we can lift the veils of ignorance that obscure the clear light of truth that is within each of us.

It is not necessary for the guru to embody perfection in all things. S/he in human form remains inherently and potentially fallible. our own common sense and judgement needs to circumscribe the teaching. It must stand the sustained scrutiny of our experience. We learn from the guru. We surrender to the greater spiritual experience of the guru, but it is the teaching not the teacher that offers ultimate wisdom. We remain responsible for our own learning. If we do that we can respect and learn from many teachers and traditions. This can form the basis of a spiritual path that transcends sectarianism.

While we may learn from many men and women of wisdom, we usually develop an instinctual affinity and relationship with a single teacher, often described as the 'root guru'. With him we transcend the mere imparting of knowledge or technique into a more subtle transmission of energies, of motivations and insights, a connectedness that seems to extend into the ineffable.

To many it seems to happen in a rush of overwhelming emotion, a spontaneous flash of knowing and feeling connected. We feel unburdened of the final responsibility for ourselves as we yield to an all-knowing, all-embracing master whom we have always known. To others it is a gradual process where the teacher and the aspirant test each other. The teacher evaluates the student's qualities and resolve, the student waits to develop the emotional empathy and confidence he needs before he can totally surrender to the wisdom and experience of the guru. There is usually an account of the right teacher appearing at exactly the right moment and at the right place for the aspirant in the right state of mind and need. This process may begin as 'logical' but quickly transcends the limits of the mind.

This idea of the guru is closer to the theistic traditions, indicative of someone who has direct communication with God, who is completely intoxicated with the godhead and because of this is perceived as able to perform miracles and to intervene, changing the course and direction of peoples lives. I have known far too many stories of 'miracles' woven by men and women of God from people whose intelligence and credibility I respect to completely reject

these. I have had my own moments of amazing serendipity, coincidences if you like, which have seemed to defy empirical logic to merely dismiss them as such, because I cannot explain them, yet Even as I might extol the virtues and the need for reason and logic to be at the forefront of a spiritual quest and the relationship with a guru, I know that the truly decisive convictions and commitments in one's life are rarely arrived at through the power of logic or argument.

While the basis of the relationship to the guru must be founded in mindfulness and reason, as the journey together traverses the subtle, transcending the intellectually apparent, when our resolve is truly challenged and seems to require an act of faith, we are vulnerable to 'copping out' with the misguided assumption that it is the guru, not we, who has feet of clay. The quest is not a passive indoctrination; its realizations endure when it is an active, intelligent engaging of the heart and the mind.

If the reader finds these conversations even occasionally engaging, my efforts will have been richly rewarded. This book is an offering from the kindness of those who have indulged me by sharing their learning and their wisdom. Any shortcomings in their articulations are due to my limitations as an intermediary. May all who read it find some insights that lead them to enduring happiness!

The guru is our own inner wisdom, our own fundamental clarity of mind

The Dalai Lama

In The Mind of the Guru, Rajiv Mehrotra presents dialogues with several contemporary sages and masters who have illumined the minds of millions around the world. Ranged here are gurus as diverse as B. K.S. Iyengar, who brought yoga from the world of the esoteric to our living rooms; Swami Ramdev, who has democratized yoga via television; and Mata Amritanandamayi whose mere presence invokes an overwhelming awareness of love. There is Deepak Chopra discussing a quantum healing of mind and body, Sogyal Rinpoche encouraging us to look at death so that we might live a better life and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar reaffirming each persons right and access to happiness. And there is the unique and contrary voice of U. G. Krishnamurti telling us that all talk of transformation is poppycock. There are no grand narratives or final solutions, only guides who can show the way to the light within. Here you learn from voices as diverse as those of Thich Nhat Hanh, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Baba Amte and Stanislav Grof. Underlying the dialogues is their wisdom on how we can make ourselves unhappy- and guidance on how we can turn our lives around to achieve happiness.

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