Guru is neither a person nor a qualification, Guru is the mind surrendered to learn

Question: Is the mind a product of duality?

Acharya Prashant: Mind is duality. Do you want to say duality is something apart from the mind? No, it is not. Mind is duality.

Listener: Duality in oneness?

AP: See, the source of all duality has to be something non-dual.

L1: If the mind is silent, peaceful, calm…

AP: Then, this duality, is silently resting in its Source. It is still there. The duality has not gone anywhere, it is still there. It can exist as a dissolved entity; it can exist as a sleeping entity but it is still there. But now, the very touch of the source has sanctified this duality. The mind is still the mind; the body is still the body, but now it is a sacred mind; now, it is a sacred body because it is in touch with the sacred.

L2: Sir, my question is on duality. The source is again Advait. The source of duality is…

AP: … non-dual.

L2: So, nothing is dual?

AP: Whatever you call as ‘is’, is dual. This wall, this floor, and all of this is dual. That is the reason why the Buddha had to say that – “The Source is not”. And in fact, that is the proper way of using language. Because when we say that, “The body is, that the earth is,” then, we cannot say in the same flow that, “The Source is’, because they are not in the same dimension. If the wall is, if the mud is, if the sky is, then the Source is not. Getting it?

But that way, you solve one problem and move into another, because in our language, is not is the opposite of is. And the opposite of a thing is always in the same dimension as the thing — Black and white are always in the same dimension. So, to get rid of is, you go to is not. But when you go to is not, you find that you are still in the same dimension. So, the sage says, “I will just be quiet. I will not speak anything about the Source because to say anything is to use language and our language cannot stand the strain, the weight of the Source. It cannot stand that.”

Language is small; language is the product of human mind. It is unbearable for the language to accommodate the source.

L3: If every element is created by some source, whether it is matter, or consciousness, or the light. When, the source is one which the man can observe in oneself. At some position, un-duality is there. You reached the state where the things are non-dual. The language, the words, speeches, expression, they are the same. Then there is no difference in calm and quietness and the words coming from that source. They are the same. Word is the guru, the guiding source and the disciple is the same and the creating words of this universe are the same. So, this realization is basically the words with which we can come to know?

AP: No, not really. Essentially, all words are just the same. Be it the crying of a toddler, the ranting of a mad man, or the utterances of the wisest man ever – they are all the same. To credit a man with the ability to cause a change in another man’s mental condition, is to say that there surely exists a benevolent ego.

There is something that happens between two human beings. Here is Priya (addressing one of the listener) and she says that there was a dog she recently met, who acted as her guru. Now, what great words is the dog uttering? I didn’t say that. What great words is the dog uttering? It is just Grace. Neither is there anything in the dog nor is there anything in the guru. That same for His own reasons, unfathomable to you, sometimes presents himself in the form of a man and sometimes in the form of a dog.

Could the guru do anything, we had a ready-made recipe in our hands. (Sarcastically) Bring the guru in front of ten people per day; he will create ten more and in no time, will there be a transformation in the world?

The guru himself is helpless. What can he do? Without grace shining on the disciple, what can the guru do? And is the guru a guru, if there is no grace shining on him? And with grace, the dog is a great guru; the greatest guru!

L3: Sir, it is not the existence of physical body. It is the intellect I am talking about, that Guru.

AP: The intellect is worthless; the intellect accounts for nothing. There have been so many intellectuals and the world is just too full of intellectuals. An intellectual is not at all a mystic.

L3: Wisdom you can say…

AP: No, wisdom is not intellect. Wisdom is not raw intellect. And to think just because somebody can speak well, has read few books, appears confident – none of that.

There is only one guru — the Super Boss.

Go to That.

And that Super Boss does not tolerate middlemen.

He can only be approached directly.

That is one of His commandments — Middlemen not tolerated.

You must have your own unique, personal relationship with the Super Boss.

Is that clear? No middleman is needed, not at all. Or are you saying that you are less worthy? Or are you saying that grace is selective?

Yes, of course, Guru is wonderful; Guru is divine; Guru is God, simple! The Guru is the Source itself. What else is the guru? Why do you need another guru?

The Source itself is the Guru — always present, always ready, always knocking.

Closer than the closest.

L2: Sir, you said about middlemen. So, any way, any method, any discussion, reading, anything that we used to reach the source, is it acting as a middlemen?

AP: You don’t use the methods to reach the Source. You do things situated in the Source. Is the source somewhere that you will reach it! Then what do you mean by reaching the source? Is it located somewhere that you will reach it?

You can be in it;

you can play in it;

you can have fun in it;

you can exist in it;

you can dive in it;

you can swim in it;

you can breathe in it.

But you cannot reach it.

How can you reach it? 

L3: Sir, there are two persons, one blind and one with the eyes. Blind one cannot support the other, while the one with eyes has the power to hold the blind one and bring him out.

AP: The analogy is all right in affairs of matter. When you say, that a man is blind, all you mean is he cannot see matter. So in affairs of matter, you are very right. But here, are we talking of affairs of matter? Nobody is blind. Forget about a human being, even a blade of grass is not blind. What do you mean by blindness? There is no blindness. Nobody is blind.

To think that the Source creates imperfection is an insult to the Source. What you mean by blindness is imperfection. There is nobody blind. Nobody is blind. There is only the illusion — I am blind. And that illusion is there when you are separate from That. And the more you search for a guru, the more you will be separated from the Real Guru.

Do you know who are the people who never meet the real guru? Who never get the joy of submergence in the Source? Who are those people?
Those who are always in search of a guru. And that is their punishment. Because you are always searching for a guru, you will always be separated from the real guru, which was always present but you never cared for it. All your illusion is because all your life you have been hunting for a guru. The guru is there. Closer than the closest.

A man is driving a truck. There are two ways he can wake up. One, he meets an accident. Let’s say, a small accident or let’s say, a pot hole on the road. The truck falls on the pot hole and comes out and he wakes up. “What a shock, what a jerk!”

The other way is there is somebody sitting by his side and says, “Sardar Ji, neend aari tussi(Hey, mate! You are feeling a little sleepy) and he wakes up. He has woken up. The other man is just as much of a guru as a pothole.

Life anyway does a lot of things to everybody which help them wake up. We are just one of those things, we are no special. That fellow may fail in his semester exams and wake up. That fellow may break up with his girlfriend and wake up. The girlfriend is a guru, the exam is a guru. We are only as much of a guru. If you want to call us a guru, then the exam is also a guru; then the girlfriend is also a guru because life itself is presenting situations and these situations are present in front of everybody.

Buddha woke up by looking at a corpse – a dead body! Life is giving you opportunities all the time. Life is the guru. We are a part of life. Yes, we are a guru, of course! Why not? Because when the Source itself is the guru, everything in the life is guru. So we are guru but that does not mean that the piece of chair, the wood is not the guru. Wood is also a guru. All is guru. It is just incidental that how the light of the divine will shine upon someone.

Some get it through dancing, some get it through singing. Some get it just through serving somebody. Some get it through listening to a man but that does not mean that the man is somebody special. If the man is somebody special, then the ornaments of dancing are also equally special. Then that dead man, that Buddha saw is equally special.

Uddhava Gita lists 24 gurus of an Avadhuta. And what kind of gurus are they? What kind of gurus? Snake, pigeon, Vaishya (Prostitute).

All guru! Life is a guru.

Do you want to know what is it to be a Guru?
To be a guru is to be That; because the Source itself is the guru.
When the mind is immersed in the Source, you are the Guru

Only then you are the guru.

So, do you want to know who the guru is in this room?
Anybody who is immersed in the Source.

Guru is not a qualification.
Guru is a state of mind.
An immersed mind is the guru.

It may be quite possible that I, the speaker, might be speaking from a state of disturbance. Whereas, somebody over here, might be totally immersed, who is a guru? Me or the person?
That person.

Just because somebody appears to be speaking a lot, he does not become a guru. The guru is one who is in the Guru. And what is the Guru?

Listeners: The source.

AP: The source. The one who abides in the source is the guru.

L3: What we have named as “guru”, what can he do?

AP: Why to bother about that?

L3: But the thing is he has bliss, powers, and…

AP: You are still personalizing the whole thing. What do you mean by what can a guru do? Guru never does anything. Everything is done by situations. Guru has never anything to do; he has no agenda. Whatever is done, is done by situations because doing itself is a metaphor applicable only to the world. Guru is the Source. There is no world there. So, what can he do? He never does anything.

L3: There is some effect?

AP: Effect is felt. Yes, of course! But not because he wants to do anything, it’s the presence – simple and direct! And that presence is not a personalized presence. That is a more important thing because the moment you utter guru, the image that comes to your mind is that of a person. Please get rid of that notion.

I mean this is a personality cult. You are running after personalities. You have personified the guru.

L4: Sir, you are speaking, you understand, you are doing everything. Is it not that the guru exists within us?

AP: Yes, of course. Within us, outside us.

L4: The introspection that we do with us, the exploration…

AP: Always, yes.

L4: Right perspective, right direction?

AP: Right and wrong, both.

L4: Both?

AP: Both.

L4: So somebody is the source, we can say.

AP: (Smiling) No. It’s not somebody.

L4: I mean there is an existence of wisdom inside…

AP: It does not exist. We said that whatever exists, is here. The samosa (referring to a food item) exists, this fan exists. The source does not exist. It does not exist, because, “existence” is the word that you use for the bird and the trees and the stones.

L4: Omniscient, omnipresent. It doesn’t exist?

AP: Never use only one side of the duality to describe the Source.

When you say “all”, also say “none”. When you say, “It is everything”, also say, “It is nothing”. Only then you will be able to make some sense of it, if any sense can be made at all. So, all and nothing; everywhere and nowhere; always and never; ever and never.

L4: Combined?

AP: Not combined; not not combined.

That’s the reason why Koans are needed in Zen. So that we may not be able to capture it, you cannot capture a Koan? You want to capture the Source, you cannot capture a Koan.

Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Guru is neither a person nor a qualification, Guru is the mind surrendered to learn


Further Reading:


Commentaries on Ashtavakra Gita

Commentaries on Ashtavakra Gita is a collection of 8 Questions asked by a seekers when they were not able to relate the verses of Ashtavakra Gita in their daily living.

Even the greatest texts in the world can be just a mental load if they don’t bring you to peace. This text on Ashtavakra Gita is essence of Ashtavakra bringing one to his/her essential nature and simplicity of life.




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