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Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is...

Sometimes students have written to or asked Swami Veda, Swami Ritavan, and other senior teachers in our tradition questions about practice. This is one such “Question and Answer,” or Q&A.


Is a guru able to remove a person’s karma or transmit shakti to awaken the kundalini or accelerate one’s journey towards enlightenment? I think: There are unfortunately no short cuts to attaining Self-Realization. It has to be a personal practice to go within oneself and experience for oneself that awareness of the true nature of the self or the atman. It is not possible for anyone to transmit this experience to another.


Five have answered this question: Michael Smith, Dr. Stephen Parker (Stoma), Pandit Hari Shankar Dabral, Lalita Arya (Ammaji), and Swami Nityamuktananda Saraswati.

From Michael Smith:

The answer that the sages have given is that it is a matter of effort and preparedness from below – clearing the path – followed by Grace from above, symbolized by the interpenetrating upward and downward triangles (the hexagon) at the Heart Chakra.

I once asked Swami Veda whether in the shaktipati experience, the Guru (1) removed the final blockages so the "natural" energy could flow, or whether (2) s/he added additional energy. Swami Veda said, "Both."

After his own shaktipati, Swami Veda asked Swami Rama, why didn't you come earlier? How come you waited until 1969 (or whenever)? Swami Rama said, "What?! And get into all your karma?!"

From Stephan Parker (Stoma):

Both things are true. Progress on the path is a collaboration between the seeker and the guru force. The seeker makes his/her best effort and when they have exhausted their ability, the Guru removes the last obstacle and the flow of shakti through the Guru raises the seeker up, showing them a higher state to which the seeker must find a way to return.

The Guru can alter the expression of karma but cannot completely eliminate it. As Swami Rama said several times, “Sometimes where life has placed a period, I can place a comma. But the person has to suffer something.”

The seeker is responsible for their own enlightenment, but the Guru also helps when the student has made an honest effort but remains trapped in their ego.

From Panditji:

Shri Swami Rama of the Himalayas has said many times that “There are lengthy routes but I know the short cuts”.
Only Guru can give you short cuts.
Only Guru can burn all your karmas and give you enlightenment. There are so many stories like that where Guru has given direct enlightenment to students. So it’s all possible and available. It’s all depends on student and his or her dedication.

One more point:
Shri Swami Rama also has said that He could transfer all the knowledge in one night into student if student is ready to take or receive.

From Lalita Arya (Ammaji):

My comments on the last question about "guru's abilities" - Guru is a powerful force that dwells in a physical body temporarily until that body is given up. As regular human beings we tend to identify with these "bodies/persons/images" as we have not learnt how to contact the force directly. The Guru guides us to that force, which is part of a perennial consciousness.

Both Baba (SR) and SVB had requested that no images, statues, photos, etc. be kept prominently displayed after they had left the body. Shouldn't we ask ourselves WHY? But we poor dependent beings could not adhere to that and still hang on to those images.

I recall once both my husband (Dr. Usharbudh Arya) and I being yelled at by Baba for running to him with what he considered minor questions. His remark was that he accepted us as his students so we may train ourselves (under his guidance) to be independent individuals responsible for our actions and the results of those actions.

A dependency on the Guru is a continuation of dependency on the seniors in our lives – parents, etc. While their grace & blessings are necessary for us to feel 'good', the dependency on the Guru may be sought but is not encouraged, as the whole idea is to find out who we are, be responsible for our karmic thoughts/actions/deeds. These cannot be wiped out totally.

It takes a long time to achieve the equanimity required to change from what we were to where we want to be - sometimes lifetimes - we must make the effort ourselves - the Guru watches over us - will not abandon us if we are sincere. Dependence on the Guru that he/she will take care of everything is not recommended. Believe that Faith & Trust will keep us on the Path where the Guru walks and has led us.

Patience & Practice are highly recommended.

Just another way at looking at the question.

From Swami Nityamuktananda Saraswati:

It all depends what we understand by the word guru. Swami Rama said: “My job is to introduce you to the teacher within”.

Editor’s Note:

If you have a question about spiritual practice, you can use the "Contact the Spiritual Committee" link on the Ahymsin website to ask it.

Previous columns can be read at “Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…



The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation

Purification of Thoughts     Dhyana    Mindfulness
Japa     Dharana     Shavasana
Breath Awareness     Qualified Preceptor
Guru Disciple Relationship     Unbroken Lineage
Yoga Nidra     Silence Retreats     Full Moon Meditation

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