If we want to learn, we have to surrender to instruction. This holds true in any area, but never more so than in spiritual practice. When we submit to instruction, we have to willingly diminish our autonomy. By giving up our say, we climb out of the kiddie pool of shrunken ideas and plunge into the ocean of true knowledge.
What tends to keep us from this surrender is our own self-loathing; we hate whomever we think we are. Who we Truly are, the Self of All, rebukes in its very Being all our narratives about ourselves. Though we conceal this from ourselves, we hate the shrunken selves we perpetuate with our narratives. We refuse to accept this self-hatred, so we project it outward onto the world around us. Once we have made this move, we have given up all our power to outside forces, and we have no ability to free ourselves and get back to the Real.
True teachers of any sort are situated in a lineage. They submitted to instruction in order to become masters in their chosen fields. They completed their apprenticeships. If we don’t surrender to a spiritual teacher and instead believe we can do it ourselves, we are self-directed and will never be able to give up the small self. Instead of working toward the Bliss and Freedom of the True Self, we will continue to insist on our miserable autonomy as self-hating little tyrants.
The Guru is always bringing us back to the Real. The Guru listens within us and shows us how to be happy. We do as the Guru instructs, and we experience happiness. But we are furious about this. We want to create and choose our own happiness according to our own individual will, so that we can feel absolute sovereignty over our lives. So we hate the Guru. And we act out against the Guru.
Life with Baba was filled with chances to choose between Love and hate, and he always gave us opportunities to let go of our read on things in order to see them as they truly were. Every day there were tests for anyone who was willing to take them.
In 1977-1978, I worked in Baba’s courtyard in Ganeshpuri. Many a day I would stand there alone; often not even Baba would be present. One afternoon, Baba was looking out the window of the meditation room into the courtyard. He looked like Krishna himself. He smiled at me and indicated that I should come to the entrance, which was on the far side of the building. Then he disappeared from the window. When I parted the curtain in the entrance, Baba was standing just behind it. He gave me a hug, and I hugged him back. It was a close, tight hug. I then pranamed and left.
The next day, Baba was at the same window again, looking radiant and full of Bliss. He signaled to me and left the window again, and I went. This time, he kissed me lightly on the cheek and held me close. I pranamed and left. This time, I didn’t like it. I felt I was being tested, and walked away uncomfortable.
The next day, Baba was there again. When he signaled for me to come and left the window, at that exact moment Ron Friedland, then president of the SYDA Foundation, happened to walk by. “Ron,” I said, “Baba wants to see you in the meditation room.” I’ve always wondered who was more surprised when that curtain parted.
Later that afternoon, Baba’s valet said to me that Baba had had work for me and I hadn’t come. I did my best Indian head nod and said, “Yes, I know.” That was it. When I saw Baba later and ever after, he treated me with the utmost respect and Love, and I always felt I had passed a test.
Over my years with Baba and after, I knew many people who had wonderful experiences and grew tremendously in Baba’s presence. At some point, each of them hit a wall, a point at which what happened for them with Baba would not fit into their ideas of themselves and enlightenment and spirituality. Most of these people wanted their shrunken selves to be enlightened; they wanted to maintain their autonomy as separate people and possess liberation from there. Never mind that Baba always taught that there is no such thing as a liberated individual. This rebelliousness against Reality, God, and Guru led them to reject Baba, often in the harshest possible terms. The shrunken self is vicious when it feels threatened, and regards itself as the ultimate victim. These people did not want to surrender to the lineage or to God.
I love Baba with all my heart and soul. He has never let me down. His Love melted my self-loathing—because I surrendered to the Guru.
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