On Surrender, Guru, Nonduality and Independence.
An excerpt from my book, “Dark Night of the Soul.” Was inspired to post this as a response to a discussion on submission here. Especially to the mention of trusting in something inside you, rather than outside of you, I felt it important to express that it gets to a point where the difference between “inside” and “outside” disappears… where one begins to see the non-duality of it.
For an explanation of Non-Duality, see here.
During my time in the UK with Dragon, I couldn’t get my head around treating Dragon like a Guru. Even in considering him as a teacher, I had drawn lines and boundaries, which he would consistently break, and I would end up infuriated. The infuriation wouldn’t last long, because he would hold up a mirror to my every action. Somehow miraculously, even without his direct involvement, I would find myself in dramatic situations that had the distinct aroma of his intense energy. Situations that were in every moment a reflection of myself and my real motives.
It was impossible to project myself onto him because to look into his very eyes felt like I was only seeing myself reflected back at me. Several people felt this way when they looked into Dragon’s eyes. I was too afraid to look into his eyes for too long because I was terrified of seeing myself, stripped of all my excuses. It was as if he went right past all the layers and saw my very core.
It became clear that the boundaries I was setting were more to protect parts of myself that weren’t very productive to begin with. Walls and blocks that I had put up under the vain pretext of self-preservation that only ended up confusing and hurting me even more by closing me up to dynamic experiences. Like how I have heard several times; when you put up walls to lock people out, you also lock yourself in.
These boundaries were to ensure I was comfortable, yet part of the spiritual process is to be willing to explore the uncomfortable – the parts we are consistently trying to avoid. After a while, what Dragon was doing began to make sense, but it did not make it any easier, not even by an iota. I was terrified of being stripped of all my layers to be left with nothing.
Each time I held onto something that I swore to myself was intrinsically who I am, Dragon would shatter it. When he did, to my amazement, I would find that I had never felt more liberated, more tranquil and effervescent. I positively tasted what peace of mind really was, what dynamism really was, in my time with him. But it never stopped at one layer. Dragon, in his vast compassion, was focused on cleaning all the mud surrounding my core. As he promised me, his only intention was to make my core sparkle like a diamond. Which meant that everything I valued as precious about myself was bound to be destroyed. There was no way that part would survive in Dragon’s presence. So I ran.
There is so much negative baggage surrounding this word Guru. It seems like a deadly affront against one’s sense of independence, which has become a coveted idea in this day and age. I was battling with this very thing, with my being appalled at how my independence was being compromised by the kind of surrender that was being asked of me. In the face of easy-going New Age spirituality, this kind of surrender seemed unnecessary and dangerous.
At one point, when I had near given up and was contemplating running back home to Australia (I’d done it four times already), I was given a task. I had found an online list of the qualities and requirements of a true Guru. I was instructed to meditate on them and explain what I understood. In the hours that followed, as I walked down the streets of the simple suburb, observing people of all shapes and sizes, nothing looked ordinary to me in the midst of what was obviously utter ordinariness!
In every person I saw on the street; I saw myself, I saw a blessing. I began to experience the powerful sensation, the same as my first experience of the oneness of the Universe, that the very meaning of Guru, or Master, or teacher, is that every man and woman in the world was my Guru, as much as I was my own Guru. The two were incomparably one! It was indeed possible that a man who had become acutely awake to this understanding can take on an active role as a teacher, whilst others would only teach without any conscious effort. Even in that unconscious reflection, we all learn… that is what is called karma. To learn from the situation that we have attracted to ourselves. It was anything but a damnation, it was a bountiful sense of opportunity that I found difficult to hold onto.
Guru – that which essentially means the dispeller of darkness. The remover of illusion. It is an internal process. You are essentially your own Guru, but what I realized as I walked the streets of England, under that cool chill, is that in this very oneness we can very easily surrender to the ability in anyone to dispel darkness, because we are only surrendering onto ourselves. That is, to use every single thing that happens to us as a lesson, not as an accident. There is no one in the world who is separate from me, it is only my illusion that thinks I am not you. It became utterly clear then, that to think that only I know what is best for me, and no one else can teach me, was an act of real ignorance. I had an inkling then of why complete surrender was so vital to the spiritual process.
It still didn’t make it any easier to listen to every single frightening instruction that Dragon gave me in order to refine me as a man of honor, but I was learning. Slowly, even if relatively so. I did run away, returned home when I became too petrified, several times. And each time, I wished I was just a bit more courageous. Courageous enough to have faced a little more of this terrifying unknown.
For more insight into this, see: The Path with Heart.