err is human. To err is inevitable for all, being not perfect. Still,
no one wants to remain imperfect. There is an element within all that
is animate that tends towards perfection. If it were not so, we would
feel no want at all. Our tendency towards perfection is certainly
very weak and limited, otherwise we could attain the goal at once.
Our limited capacity and tendency for perfection makes room for the
guide or guru.
imperfect is not so if it is not in need of help, and that also
from beyond itself. The perfect is not perfect if He cannot assert
Himself or help others, and that too, of His own accord. So the
guidance to perfection or Absolute Truth is necessarily a function
of the Absolute Himself, and the Divine Agent through whom this
function manifests is Sri Guru, or the Divine Guide.
a seeker of the Absolute Truth, submission to the guru is unavoidable.
A class of thinkers believes, however, that when scientific research
is possible, why cannot higher spiritual knowledge also be evolved
from within? Such people are ignorant of the most essential nature
of Absolute Knowledge - that He alone is the Absolute Subject, and
all else, including ourselves, constitutionally stand only as an
object to His omniscient vision. It is impossible for the eye to
see the mind; it can have some connection with the mind only when
the latter cares to mind it. In a similar way, our connection with
Absolute Knowledge depends mainly on His sweet will. We must solely
depend on His agent, or the Spiritual Master, through whom He likes
to distribute Himself.
human society -- with its finest culture -- forms but an infinitesimal
part of the dynamic Absolute. How, except by the direct and positive
method of revelation, dare we hope to comprehend or evolve any conception
of the supernatural knowledge of the unconditioned Infinite? All
intellectual giants prove themselves but pygmies before the Absolute
Omniscient Omnipotence who reserves the right to give Himself away
through His own agents alone.
our best knowledge and sincerity, however, we should see not to
submit to a false agent. Here of course, we can't help ourselves
very much, because in our present state we are mainly guided by
our previous samskara, or acquired nature. "Birds of the
same feather flock together." Yet, although we are generally overpowered
by habit, there is still the possibility of free choice to a certain
extent, especially in the human species, otherwise correction becomes
impossible, and punishment mere vengeance. Reality can assert itself.
Light does not require darkness for its positive proof. The sun
by itself can establish its supremacy over all other lights. Before
an open and unbiased eye, the sad guru
[real guide] shines above all professors of phenomenon.
Guru manifests himself mainly in a twofold way -- as the director
from within, and the preceptor from without. Both functions of the
Absolute help an individual soul, a disciple, to reach the absolute
goal. In our fallen state we cannot catch the proper direction of
the inner guide, so the merciful manifestation of the preceptor
without is our sole help and hope. But at the same time, it is only
by the grace of the guru within that we can recognize the real preceptor
without, and submit to his holy feet.
bona fide disciple must always remain fully awake to the fact that
his highest spiritual fortune is but a gracious grant from the Absolute
Lord, and not a matter of right to be demanded or fought out. Constitutionally,
we are equipped only to be proper recipients of God's favor. In
this connection, it should be clearly understood that an individual
soul can never be substantially the same as the Absolute Person.
Not even in his liberated or fully realized condition can an individual
soul be one with Godhead. The misconception of oneness has been
introduced from the slothful nondiscrimination of the Absolute Personality
from the luminous orb around His eternal, spiritual, and blissful
home. In fact, an individual soul constitutes only a part of a particular
power of intermediate value of the Supreme Lord, and as such he
is capable of being converted from both sides. He differs from the
Absolute Entity both in quantity and quality, and is merely a dependent
entity on the Absolute. In other words, the Absolute Lord Krishna
is the Master, and an individual jiva soul is His constitutional
subordinate, or servant.
a relationship is constant and really wholesome for the jiva. The
apprehension of slavery does not arise, because of his free choice
and immense positive gain. The freedom and individuality of the
jiva are not only unharmed by surrender to the Absolute Good, but
they really thrive in Him alone. Individual freedom and interest
are the part and parcel of those who are of the Absolute, and so
they are quite at home there, as a fish is at home in water or an
animal in a healthy atmosphere. But the freedom, as well as all
other qualities of the Supreme Personality, are unlimited and transcendental,
and so only by their partial functions they harmonize all relative
Guru is not exclusively the same as the Supreme Lord Himself, but
he fully represents the essence of the whole normal potency, and
embodies the most comprehensive and excellent service and favor
of the Lord. As he is the fittest servitor of the Lord, he is empowered
by the Lord to reinstate all misguided souls to their best interest.
So, Guru is the Divine Messenger of immortal hope and joy in this
mortal and miserable world. His advent is the most auspicious and
happy event to the suffering animation, and can be compared to the
rising of the morning star that can guide the traveller lost in
the desert. A gentle touch of Sri Guru's merciful hand can wipe
off the incessant tears from all weeping eyes. A patriot or philanthropist
makes the problem only worse in his frantic and futile attempt to
alleviate the deep rooted pain of a suffering soul, as an ignorant
doctor does in eagerly handling an unfortunate patient. O the day
when this poor soul realizes the causeless grace of Sri Gurudev.
also see the Preface, an essay by
Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad.]