Q: I was reading about the Guru-disciple relationship in the Kularnarva Tantra and it made me feel really bad about myself. I don’t think I could ever live up to discipleship as portrayed there and in other places—so surrendered, so obedient, so self-effacing and so on. Should I give up and plunge myself into worldly life?
Ans: You have to know how to read Indian scriptures. Part of the problem is cultural. When Indians read these texts, they understand them in a different way from the way outsiders do. You should think of these as scriptural guidelines. The point of the Guru-disciple relationship is to connect you with the source of Shakti to which the Guru is already connected. Some disciples find it hard not to be in control. Without even knowing it, they try to tell the Guru what to do. That is like the tail wagging the dog. When you surrender and don’t create resistance, the Shakti flows in the right direction.
When I was with Baba, I practised my ‘disciple-bhava’. I tried to be obedient, egoless, do everything he told me, and always mold myself to what I thought his wishes were. But then I noticed that he had many Indian buddies who were much less formal and much less ‘correct’. Sometimes they even seemed to be having spirited arguments with him. At first I judged them and thought they were bad disciples and I was much superior. Then I used to wonder, why Baba didn’t bust them for being so impertinent. Then, my mind flip-flopped and I saw they had a natural flow of relationship with Baba and my own relationship was too formal and theoretical. Yes, I found all these ways and more to torture myself. The scriptural injunctions are guidelines. And as your relationship with the Guru grows more real, it will naturally become less formal and more nuanced. As in any relationship, there may be an ideal pattern, but in practice, the ways are infinite. Westerners are sometimes under the misapprehension that the Guru-disciple relationship is a form of robotic slavery. This is simply not true, though if you are with a great Guru, his instructions will be valuable for you and will help you overcome negative tendencies which you may be blind to. In fact, the disciple always has choice. He can disagree with the Guru and fight with the Guru—he can choose A or Not A. As long as the Shakti is not blocked. The one thing the disciple shouldn’t do is cut himself off from the Guru and block the flow of love between
them. Of course, that happens, and it is so painful that the disciple ‘fries’. In other words, the kind of choice I am suggesting is different from one that some ‘disciples’ make. That is, obey the
Guru or leave in a huff. Keep your heart open to the Guru and act naturally. But make sure you don’t win any arguments!