The Guru is not out to get you. The shakti is not out to crush you. There may be times when you are convinced that they are out to ruin you, but it is never true.
The Guru, shakti and God want what is best for us, in every sense of the word. And when we obey the Guru and the shakti, lo and behold, we find ourselves moving to a better place, closer to God.
Once the shakti is awakened, it is moving toward Home. Shaktipat can be exhilarating, and we at first may be excited by this newfound experience and dimension in our lives. We feel blessed, and acknowledge the shakti as a beneficial and extraordinary gift. But as we proceed to practice sadhana and confront the reality of what must be sacrificed for the process to reach fruition, we move from excitement to dread and fear and resistance.
Though we may deny it, this is when we see the Guru as an enemy—as the antagonist we must fight against to preserve our sense of self, our integrity, our narrative. We see that the directives the Guru gives us go against our beliefs about ourselves, so we conclude that the Guru must be trying to crush us, and we refuse to obey. We believe that rejecting the Guru’s guidance will get us out of harm’s way.
In short, the shrunken self sees the Guru as a demon: risky, reckless, tyrannical, harmful, and humorless. The Guru crushes students. This is why, in tantric traditions, deities have terrifying forms such as Bhairava or Durga: God and Guru seem horrifying to the shrunken self. This is appropriate, because they will bring about the shrunken self’s dissolution.
So why, then, do people who see the Guru this way stay on? Because they feel better when they see the Guru crushing someone other than them. In many cases, this feels like their family lives; watching a sibling get crushed always meant being in the clear. A more common reason people who demonize the Guru choose to stay is that while they reject the guidance of the Guru, they like the experience of the shakti. Being near the Guru means being beside a source of power. They can’t see that the true enemy of the Guru is ignorance. And they can’t see that what the Guru wants them to have is not power but Love.
If we trap ourselves in that kind of delusion, then rather than heed the Guru we will choose to listen to all our friends and people we consider knowledgeable about the world. But every time we disobey the Guru and do things the way we are sure they should be done, we will find ourselves in a greater mess. In truth, the Guru’s knowledge of the spiritual realm leads to the deepest understanding of worldly affairs.
If we do not get the lesson, then the results of our actions will take us further and further away from God. We will become rigid, isolated, sure voices stuck in the mud of hell. But we cannot see the way out of our alienation, for we refuse to see that we had and still have choice.
If we are willing to surrender and learn, though, we will move from clue to clue in the treasure hunt of life. We will continue solving the riddle and finding our way back Home.
The spiritual path is dangerous for anyone unwilling to have a guide. Our goal is to dissolve our separateness in Love; the shrunken self’s sense of direction will never get us there. As the mystical poet Al-Niffari wrote, “If a man regards himself as existing through God, that which is of God in him predominates over the phenomenal element and makes it pass away, so that he sees nothing but God. If, on the contrary, he regards himself as having an independent existence, his unreal egoism is displayed to him and the reality of God becomes hidden from him” (in Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, 60-61).
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