[Editor's Note: This is Day Three of the Be Your Own Guru blog series. Stu gives us a clear understanding of What a guru really is - and where to find yours today.]
I never thought much about "Gurus" until I was in school. I had a teacher that would tell us entertaining stories about her retired teacher. They would always end with, what I found to be, the strangest comment: "I'm on a never-ending search to find my new Guru." I would think, Hmmm... being in a school, you would be surrounded by gurus, right?"
I was right... but I found that out later, at the bottom of a rabbit hole.
Anyone on a path to wisdom, to finding the secrets of life, has come across the notion of a Guru. We inevitably hear about this Guru, that Guru, or even "my" Guru. It conjures up images of a half-in-this-world-half-not levitating apparition. But who is your Guru? ... and what exactly IS a guru?
It's insane to ask that question!
A Guru is someone who has the answers to your questions, possesses a wisdom of unfathomable proportion, one with knowledge not of this earth. Sounds fantastic! But...
Can there possibly be one person with all and total knowledge? Can one person know the right and perfect path for every other person? No matter your belief system, possessing all knowledge = not being human... or being nailed to a cross. So what do they have... these "Gurus"?
A Guru has experience that gives them a process by which to seek truth or answers.
Where does this process come from? Barring those born enlightened, we must assume the Guru learns the process in their lifetime. So, what education system churns out the Guru diploma? What university do we study for the MGA (Master of Guru Arts)? I don't believe any education system is really up to that challenge. Being taught knowledge barely prepares you for the task in front of you... let alone the life that surrounds it.
Now, I concede the Master / Student education system as viable, but only to the extent that we understand the completion of such an apprenticeship leaves the student at the beginning of his or her path. Additionally, the greatest Masters instill in their student the wisdom that the Master's path is solely one example that cannot possibly be duplicated nor, even more so, applied exactly to the student's path.
So, there must be something else. Some other key. Some other element.
Allow me, for a moment, to touch on the "rabbit hole" mentioned at the beginning.
Over the course of my life, I've experienced nauseating setbacks, devastating heartbreak, and even the collapse of an otherwise "great" career. Each has become a pivotal life-changing moment... Now, I find myself teaching people how to find happiness in every corner of their life. I show strangers how to truly find love. I even dabble, a bit, helping professionals find their own Professional Freedom (OK, maybe a little more than dabble).
Here's the kicker: people reach out to me for this wisdom I gained from handling the tough parts of my past. It could be argued... that I, am in fact, a Guru.
Wait... wait... wait... you know me. Stu: an ordinary guy, not a Guru! This doesn't make sense! Or does it?
Don't seek what the sages knew. Seek what they sought.
Quite accidentally, I did just that. I found wisdom looking for answers to my own questions, to settle myself, to ease the pain of my own hardships. That search... of my soul... for myself... helped me build a compass. That compass, now helps navigate the many other adventures that come after the answer I originally sought. I was lucky to have an unusual guide... and recognized the beautiful Sages as they appeared. But, here's something quite interesting: Guides and sages are catalysts, not Gurus. It was the life I chose and the results of those choices (mostly poor ones by society's standards) that have shaped me, built my compass... that now navigates... and helps others navigate.
A Guru can only teach you the way he got to his answers. He cannot give you your answers. He doesn't know them... and never will. Wisdom is not in the answer. It is the path to the answers.
Let's end this with the ultimate in let-downs... from the dictionary:
guru [goo·roo] noun
any person who counsels or advises; a leader in a particular field
So... my sage... what have you done? What should you be experiencing so you can teach someone else? Or better... What have you already experienced that you can use to navigate your own path? Who needs a guru? You've got you.
Isn't a better search the one to find the Guru in you?
Stu (aka Stewart Snyder), is a shaman, yogi, healer, and a 100% cool, compassionate dude. He's the author of "Quitting Is For Winners" - providing tactical advice for a better life. His Unbranded website is a haven for clear thinking and honesty about living the life you were called to live. You can also connect with Stu on twitter and facebook.