Waiting for Godot…….er, Guru
By: Jeri Senor
“To know a thing, you must become that thing. You can know nothing outside of yourself, but you are everything.”
I had an experience I would like to share with you that was revelatory a few years ago when I still lived in a small town in central Ohio. I had decided that I was going to take up trotting (I refer to it as trotting because it is only a slight increase in the speed with which I walk, and that is fairly slow) at the nearby park in order to spend some much needed time outdoors soaking up the healing Prana (universal energy).
I wasn’t convinced that I would find what I was looking for there either, but at least I was out, and so statistically my chances were improved—albeit remotely.
My desire was to find a Guru. Someone who could help me remove my darkness, bring me into the light. Gurus are personal spiritual teachers. It is believed that when you are ready, one will show up. And, not only will one show up, but he will be the perfect Guru for you. Your very own personal Guru! Holy cow! I mean, who thought that up? It is genius… brilliant. The clever maker-upper of this ideological promise deserves respect, (or at least an authentic tip of the hat).
I have always been attracted to this idea—which is why I so highly revere that which promulgated it into existence. And the ‘guru-envy’ that I experience when learning that someone, other than myself, has found her personal Guru, curiously continues to plague me. I mean, what could be more exciting than having someone show up (just showing up is in and of itself a feat worthy of praise) who can help you move through your darkness… your perceived obstacles to enlightenment? So, finding someone who has the potential to show me how incredibly limited my perceptions are, is someone I want to spend considerable time with. (I am not putting myself down here as some of you may think, just being realistic. After all, when you think about it, aren’t we are all fairly ego-centric and constricted when it comes to understanding things of the spirit?)
Now call me needy if you must, but I look at it this way. Somehow, something, somewhere out there gave us these Gurus (Jesus, Buddha, Krishna) who are awake enough to be able to bring us into a state of remembrance or unity consciousness, and the only thing we need do is get ready.
Well, yippee cuz getting ready is what I do best. I mean, I get ready for the day by drinking coffee. I get ready for practicing yoga by putting on my yoga clothes. I get ready to go out dancing by having a cocktail. I get ready to write by talking about it. I get ready for enlightenment by practicing techniques. It seems, I am always getting ready to live or die or whatever it is I am always getting ready to do. Yadda, yadda, yadda… you get my drift because you are most likely doing the same getting ready that I am. So, where is my Guru?
Hmmm… perhaps, I have misjudged. Maybe, just maybe, I have it all wrong. Perhaps, what I really need to do is to actually BE ready. Maybe I have spent a little too much time with the GETTING ready part. But, I digress. I was relating my story from a few years ago when I decided to go to the park and trot. Let me get back to that because it is a really good story and I think you will like it, and, believe it or not, it has everything to do with ‘getting’ and ‘being’ ready.
So, there I was at the park to trot and I was totally delighted, even excited to be there. The outdoors was inviting, and I was completely and thoroughly wrapped up in my aloneness. The solitude was addicting. I have always enjoyed being with myself however, so this was no surprise, and adding nature to the mix was definitely a pick-me-upper.
Imagine, my frustration then when, only a few minutes into my satisfying experience, I heard behind me, and not too far in the distance, the rantings of our local (some have dubbed him lunatic, but I always found that somewhat harsh, though part of me, I must admit, concurred) un-medicated schizophrenic. Now, I am not one to dispassionately condemn a man (or a woman) for lacking in ability to conform to social mores (a much nicer way to describe mental instability). God knows, I have had my own struggles, but did I have to put up with this bellicose and excessively verbose disruption of my quiet moving meditation?
The interesting thing here is that almost immediately after I called into question this man’s character and how his presence would affect me, I ordered myself to stop. I remembered that one of the reasons that I was out, after all, was to find a Guru. Perhaps, this fellow who perceived things quite a bit differently than most, would be able to offer something up. Could I open myself to the possibility that I could learn? That everyone was a Guru of sorts? Instead of ‘getting’ ready for a Guru, could I ‘be’ ready? Well yes, I believed that I could. (As I think back on this, I realize how unfortunate it was that, as a proclaimer of non-attachment and non-judgement, I had to talk myself into interacting with another human being in a way that required a moment-to-moment-suspension-of-judgement presence, and then only for my own selfish gain. But, what can I say? this is just how it was.)
What light could I glean from an encounter with the man who was infamous for his outspoken opinions? Ones that frequently led to bursts of rage and then quickly shifted from one topic to the next without any clear demarcation? I knew this because he was frequently a caller-inner on the local radio talk-show (this is also one of the reasons why everyone knew of him). However, I would often turn him off without really listening to what he had to say because of the way in which he said it. I had no tolerance for what I perceived was unjust anger and ear-hurting loudness. In fact, when he called in, I would roll my eyes, sigh, and resign myself to my self-righteous belief that he was obviously ignorant, mentally unhealthy, and had nothing to offer that I cared to hear. He was just another one of those ignorant, small-minded, “the world will end soon if we don’t change our ways,“ religious conservatives who could not think beyond his own fears. I felt I was way better than him (liberals are better than conservatives, right?).
Well, I didn’t have time to contemplate these harsh judgments for long, because without too much preparation there he was, trotting beside me (he was forced to slow his pace down considerably, but as he learned I was a willing listener, he was keen to do it). So, there we were. Him and me. Trotting in the park. Having a conversation (well, it was more or less me listening to him switch from one really intense topic to the next, but I did occasionally get a word in). And actually, as I listened to him (I mean, really listened), I began to connect his thoughts and understand what it was he was saying, why he was saying it, and, more importantly, why he was saying it in the way he was saying it. Turns out, he isn’t so crazy, narrow-minded, fearful, or even unjustifiably angry after all (those are adjectives that better describe me!).
I do remember telling him that he should try getting quiet every now and again and actually listen to what someone else had to say. He told me that no-one had ever said that to him before and that he would give it some serious thought. I liked that. I thought that was really sweet and intelligent. It made me feel good to have offered up something that he could use, because he was absolutely informing me.
Well, you know, we talked about all sorts of things and I was learning so much and having such a good time that I cannot even begin to tell you. It was fantastic. He was removing some of my darkness. Whoa… he was (in those moments) my personal Guru. I guess I was ‘ready‘…?
How cathartic. How absolutely intentionally unintended that was. I recognized and allowed myself the opportunity to experience information that ordinarily would have been difficult for me to internalize and accommodate. In essence, I chose my reality. I opened the gift placed before me. The gift of being present with another human being that I had previously felt had nothing of value to offer me. I suspended judgment, came into the moment, and tasted the honey of transcendence that is a natural outpouring of “going with the flow.“
You may think that I exaggerate this chance meeting with my temporary Guru, but you are wrong. And, the pinnacle of this experience was that as we neared the end of the park’s path, knowing that I would go my way and he would go his, we made eye contact (I saw infinity in those eyes). In that instant (which was absolutely timeless), I literally became him and he me. We were one, in total union, no distinction between where his manifested form began and ended and my manifested form began and ended. Our molecules all spacious and vibrating commingled in an ordered chaos that must have reached the critical level. We understood ’Christ Consciousness’ as it relates to “I am in you and you are in me”. We were residing in the Tao, the Way, the Buddha.
As I left the park that day, I walked freakishly suspended about an inch or so off of the ground. I felt uniquely different, remarkably changed (which is so interesting because what I experienced felt so easy, so natural). The significance of the experience made me cry. After all the years of practicing techniques to prepare myself for what I believed was the off-chance that I might ’catch’ a meditative state and move into Samadhi (unity), in a matter of 20 minutes this incredible man had brought me out of the darkness and into the light. The crying I believe was an expression of profound gratitude for the gift I was given… to meet one of my Guru’s and spontaneously experience (without the use of mind-altering drugs), my (all of our) natural state of unity consciousness.
Turns out, all we need to do is surrender, let go, come fully into each moment, breath by creative breath and ’see’ what is already there, has always been there and will always be there. That‘s it. There is no more.
Whew… that wasn’t so bad, now was it?
Jeri Senor has been “yoga-ing” for nearly 30 years now. Her newest Guru is the incredible organisms that reside in her backyard… her beehives. She has learned how to better listen to and take notice of Nature which, in effect, has revealed the absolute undeniable inter-connectedness of all things.