A wise being once said: ‘when you hold on to the Guru’s feet to raise yourself, the speed will throw you off balance’.
So many ideas may arise in one’s mind about this simple metaphor with a profound meaning for one’s existence and evolution. Whatever we choose to look at from a limited perspective, be it science, our body, our spirituality, our relationships, etc., we always only see an obscure and disconnected or a partial related-to-our-bodily existence picture. And so our life remains purely fragmented, our understanding purely veiled, and our actions wrapped up in a hectic state of confusion. So what does it really mean to hold onto the Guru’s feet. And who is the Guru?
The majority would probably visualise their previous experiences about various teachers and teachings and consider that a sufficient answer. Yet, again it is only a fragmented perspective based on past experiences and information derived from books or taken from someone else.
How can we know the truth then? Our truth lays in our veils until the day comes that we are able to see beyond the veils. To see beyond the veils means to see beyond this metaphor. It means perception beyond the limited, bodily or conceptual veils. The realisation of different veils and the instruments of perception that make the perception through such veils possible are the clues to one’s liberation from those veils. The thing that binds one then indicates the way to liberation.
After all, do we naively believe that the true search for spirituality is about looking for teachers, gurus, interesting powerful teachings, listening to nice talks or reading captivating books? Or is it about exercising, deprivation, or the indulgence or stimulation of the senses in any form? If you look at all of these notions, all you see is a limitation of the bodily existence that is projected onto spirituality.
Spirituality is the intangible essence which makes the tangible essence alive, vibrant, intelligent, wise and content. So is the aim of spirituality to find another human perspective or is it to go beyond any human notions, concepts, perspectives and perceptions for the sake of realising that which is the core of Reality – the simple, silent space-like Being that is always there?
To hold on to the Guru’s feet means to hold onto one’s own space of equanimous awareness – Self-Being. But when one begins to hold onto the Guru’s feet, when one is holding onto equanimity, then it may seem as if life is trying to continually challenge and shake one out of that state.
Life can only throw at us, that which is already within our consciousness as a distortion in a seed form. What we call our life is just the commonly accepted, consensus perception of of our manifested collective distortions. This life is not then perceived directly as that Ultimate Life, Being, Existence.
The true Being gradually settles into one’s life through the process of the inner awakening and further during the refinement process. This all, however, is simply a training for one to tighten one’s grip on that space and become unwavering in one’s stillness and self-establishment in every moment. Yet, is it a process of exercising will?
One might think that one is capable of controlling the flow, but the flow is that which is pure and polluted or corrupt at the same time. Thus both the pruity and the corruption will be flowing as long as the refinement is ongoing. If one expects to experience a supreme awakening moment of great tranquility and bliss and then seamlessly and effortlessly fade into that bliss, like someone taking a greater and greater dose of an opioid drug, then life will surely show one that the nature of the path is otherwise. The nature of the path is embracing, the nature of the path is discerning and refining, cultivating and letting go or resting. All these are various facets of the path and thus none should be given a supreme position.
The equanimous and blissful state is to be maintained, cultivated and integrated throughout every conditional experience in life. In that case, one may expect different challenging and testing scenarios to arise in the course of daily life. Expectation does not mean here that one should be actively looking for, or foolishly throwing oneself into difficult scenarios. It simply means the application of one’s wisdom and discernment in every day life with constant awareness of the equanimous content Being. Thus, every action appears soaked in that Being or arises from that Being rather than the veiled perception.
If one can only be equanimous and content in certain conditional scenarios, then there is no realisation there and thus no real freedom in action. To be established in equanimity means to perceive oneself as a complete, wholesome and equanimous being, yet at the same time be emotionally free in expression in all possible scenarios and circumstances.
When self is established in blissful and equanimous Being then the self-expression naturally becomes honest, free and spontaneous, because there is no impediment there, and there is nothing that one is either actively, ambitionously pursuing or trying to hide from or avoid. Thus, the notion of freedom is realised as more subtle rather than declarational, demonstrative or one-sided.
When one is on the path of refinement, disillusionment and inner liberation, life pushes one into scenarios where both one’s inner sense of stability and contentment is challenged, along with one’s ability to act and flow freely, honestly and selflessly. If one perceives that one’s flow of action shuts down and one acts as if from a state of fear, discontentment or desperation, then one should observe that life is simply forcing one to see an aspect of self that is yet to be refined. In these cases, one should first learn to perceive the root of one’s actions and observe that one acted out of discontentment rather than the equanimous Being. When we act out of discontentment and imbalance, there is an inner contraction, and that contraction leads us to the unrefined action.
As long as there is a distortion within the suble-being, at some point, that distortion will peak in one’s consciousness like a wave and reach the surface. The wave creates an experience or one simply notices and acknowledges the potentiality for such an experience due to the inner reaction that reflects back, and one can experience that distortion as a breakage or interruption in the flow of one’s content free flow of action. Such issues will keep on coming to the surface as long as the waves of internal distortions arise. Even if one tries to bury and ignore them, the upheavals are inevitable. This is the natural genius of life – the very existence that silently flows through everything that is and is not, and when one is holding onto the Guru’s feet this process of realising that is only amplified and accelerated.
To step on the path means to understand and perceive what the Guru’s feet are, and then to take hold of them and hang on for dear life. When one steps onto the path it may seem like everything conspires to throw one off of the path, and with time this effect may become even more exaggerated.
Every single root of victimisation, escapism, avoidance, selfishness, etc., within the mind is dragged up and pushed to the surface through life experiences, and one has to choose how one is to face these elements wisely. If one lets go of the Guru’s feet in one’s consciousness in these moments one cannot amplify that, which the Guru or Higher Being, Higher Consciousness represents – stillness, bliss, high intelligence, wisdom and honesty to self. Then one may waver from the path and fall into the former patterns of action that eventually weave one tightly into a compact prison of illusionary perception.
If one can hold onto the Guru’s feet at all times, then one is able to face self with honesty and use one’s own content and equanimous Being to refine self on the level of action and expression, and eventually integrate self into the fullness of content, spontaneous and spiritually free living, where intelligence evolves and the emotions balance.
If one has a true spiritual guide that may be called a manifested in the flesh Guru or a true example of that simplicity, multidimensionality, intensity and stillness at the same time – that very rare natural emanation of life and pure force of transformation – then the task is to recognise this rare gem and to find the way (that frequency of purity within the self) to connect with this being on a conscious level. This is but a natural process if one is already hanging onto the Guru’s feet as the Inner-Being.
The outer embodied Guru is an outer representation of the inner Guru, which catalyses the process of refinement and transformation on different levels. For most beings on the path, there is still a need for specific words of guidance, for weaknesses within the self to be pointed out for what they are and dissolved, and for the tangible through-an-awakened-and-transformed-body transmission of unconditional Self-Being to come through from another perceivable human being.
To hang on to the feet of the outer Guru means taking the teachers’ advice seriously and wholeheartedly. The Guru may often point out aspects within the self that one is either unable to see or refuses to acknowledge. This can often be painful and there may be a desire to rebel against the Guru’s words and take them as personal blows or criticisms. However, if one hangs onto the Guru’s feet within oneself, meaning one holds onto that inner connection with the uncondtional Being, then one is able to honestly face self, admit that which has been brought up to the surface and gradually dissolve or let go of it. It simply means absolute trust and deep connection based on purity, honesty and gratitude, through which one is able to realise the wisdom oozing from the Higher Being and the subtle benefit of the, possibly unpleasant for the limited being, process that is invoked by one’s teacher’s presence.
If this foundation is there, one proves oneself capable of understanding the essence of the self-refinement and the subtle process of evolution through the embodiment. Then one’s teacher’s presence is genuinely viewed as a blessing and an emanation of wisdom and a direct example of perfection that is manifested in the form of silent presence, verbal or other forms of transmission.
If one receives even a word that triggers tremendous upheaval and a shift within, and one is mature enough to work on that which has arisen, one learns to cherish and nurture those words, transmissions and inner revelations that come through this connection and one may begin to reflect upon them gradually with a greater and greater degree of self-honesty and discernment.
If one holds on to the Guru’s feet within, and one maintains one’s own contentment, it will be but natural to respect, honour and take seriously the teachings of the outer Guru. One’s connection to the inner and the outer Guru are to be cultivated simultaneously. Eventually, such cultivation results in the both streams merging into one flow, one dance of spiritual teaching and learning through the processes of absorption, refinement and self-cultivation/ transformation.
The Guru’s feet are a certain subtle position or space that one must align oneself with if one sincerely wishes to evolve spiritually. The act of Pada Puja, or worship of the Guru’s feet or sitting by the True Guru’s feet in Hindu and other traditions obtains its valuable meaning only from the inner knowledge that is born out of that unconditional space of The Ultimate Reality – Being. Such processes in their essence are far from the external ritualistic worship, giving one’s own power to others or diminishing one’s value in the process of victimised submission and spiritual slavery. Without this realisation any such rituals are just useless, empty, senseless voluntary repetitions of pseudo-spiritual action. They are devoid of the essence, and as a flower devoid of water withers and dies, so do such actions. They are ignorant and fruitless. True spirituality is subtle and wholesome, hard to grasp and yet very simple. It is never about rituals, demonstrations or external proclamations.
If one worships the Guru’s feet within thy self as thy Self, then one may begin to perceive the real dimensions of the Guru’s feet as and within one’s own scope of awareness, and see how this expanding or deepening awareness penetrates through each and every perceivable and unperceivable aspect of Creation.
The Guru’s feet are the Ultimate Reality, the manifested Creation, and the teaching/guiding/transformative force that unites the limited with the unlimited, and the conditional with the unconditional into one eternal Wholeness.