Baba used to say, “I give you what you want so that someday you will want what I have to give”. He was Self-realized and saw the world as it really is. I am not where Baba is, and I am less patient. I have waited and waited and given many students what they wanted. But, as this body ages, I want to give what I have to offer to the few who want it.
When Baba told me I was naïve about why people came to the ashram, he was, of course, right. Now I understand what he was saying. I’ve seen that there are five basic types of spiritual seeker, only one of which is looking for the Real.
The first kind of seeker is really just looking to replace, transfer, or supplement their relationship with their mommy or daddy. Seeking a familiar vibration, they want me, or any teacher, to relate with them in such a way that all I can provide is what they have always wanted their parent of choice to give them—emotionally and intellectually. They want unconditional acceptance of the behavior they have always brought to the table, whether it is appropriate or not. So they project that relationship and expect me to play the desired role. If they harbor negative feelings toward that parent, they will either see me as a tyrant to appease or someone to be obnoxious to with impunity, expecting the spiritual teacher to love and accept them on their terms, no matter what.
But the jobs of the mommy and the Guru are very different. When you want your mommy, you will treat the Guru with the same deceptive deference that you believe your mother wanted. You will give the Guru everything you gave your mommy, not knowing that you were actually not authentic the first time you did it. You were just trying to manipulate your mommy with words and actions that may have been okay with her (or okay with her when you were four years old), but the Guru sees through all that. This is not what the Guru wants from you. If I had wanted to be just a mommy forever, I would never have encouraged my sons to become adults.
The second kind of seeker is a lonely person looking for community. They are not interested in the Guru, but in being with, and sharing with, other seekers. Group classes serve as ways to meet people—and that is the goal.
The third kind of seeker wants power. This hunger may take the form of seeking exotic experiences, cultivating a sense of elitism, or pursuing the illusion of control over others. They want the Guru to showcase supernatural powers that they as students can then gain for themselves. They don’t want the Guru to be able to see into them, nor do they want to be brought to introspection; they want a magic show. This is not remotely what spiritual practice is about, and the Guru should not tolerate it.
The fourth kind of seeker wants to have their pain removed. They are looking for someone they can rely on to relieve their suffering. There is an element of truth in this, because a Guru’s job is to remove suffering—and I do this. But unless a student commits to practice, their pain will only return. Unfortunately, most of these seekers want the Guru to remove their pain with little or no work on the student’s part. When they actually experience freedom from pain, a few—a very few—will awaken to what spiritual practice really means. The others are no more interested in introspection than the power-seekers; what they want is to have their pain transformed into or replaced with pleasure. They want little techniques that will help ease their stress. Most will only keep returning for a quick fix.
The fifth kind of seeker is very rare. This person is truly searching for a Guru—someone who conveys the grace-bestowing power of God. These seekers come prepared to undertake the arduous work of spiritual practice. They are disciplined, vigilant, and capable of sustained concentration and effort. When the Guru turns their lives upside down, they welcome it as a chance to learn and grow. They know that if you truly follow and obey the Guru, you will come to be who you truly are. This is what the Guru wants for all students.
Baba used to say that the Guru grants what the heart desires, so, in his ashram, these five kinds of seeker found what they were looking for. The misguided ones took the goal of spiritual practice to be either relationship with a higher authority that remained in harmony with their idea of themselves, or community, or power, or pleasure. Precious few wanted the true Guru. This has always been true—but it is also true that some who seek the wrong thing may wake up and turn to the true goal of spiritual practice. Baba always offered that possibility. It remains there for everyone.
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