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Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…

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


Only one who has realized his true self who is free from ego and body mind breath identifications can understand and speak the truth and guide. All others are only speaking about concepts and second hand knowledge. That being the case, how can they guide others?


Randall Krause (Mokshadeva) and Stephen Parker (Stoma) have answered this question.

From Randall Krause (Mokshadeva):

To answer your question, let me tell you a story—which you may have already heard but it bears repeating. There was man who, during a flood, climbed onto the roof of his house. He began praying fervently to God to save him. After some time, a firefighter came by with a long ladder to help him down but the fellow on the roof waved him away because he was praying to God to save him. The water continued to rise and soon was almost at the level of the roof. The man prayed more and more fervently. Soon, a person came in a boat and shouted, “Save yourself, jump into my boat and I’ll take you to safety!” But the fellow on the roof wouldn't go because he wanted God to save him. The water was flowing rapidly now and came up over the roof and the fellow climbed to the top of his chimney—the only dry place—and prayed with all his heart and mind and concentration. Soon a helicopter came and lowered a basket and the Coast Guard soldier shouted down to “Get in the basket and we will haul you to safety.” But this fellow didn't go. He was waiting for God to save him. Soon the flood swept the fellow away and he drowned. Then he found himself as a soul in the presence of God and was upset and said, “Why didn’t you save me when I prayed to you?” God said, I sent a fireman with a ladder, a man with a boat and a helicopter with a basket. What more did you want?

The idea is that the un-embodied, timeless Guru can teach us in many ways, through many people, and especially through initiated teachers. If you refuse all the help that comes to you, insisting that the Guru personally appear before you, you may miss essential lessons and have a very long wait.

Very few people ever came into the physical presence of Swami Rama, and almost nobody spent more than a few moments in that presence. The Guru can teach through many means and one does not need to be in his or her physical presence to be guided. Most teaching occurs out of the physical presence of the Gurudeva.

Finally, do consider that it is said in the Traditions that “when the student is ready, the Master appears.” So do the absolute maximum in your power to overcome your problems and do the practices you’ve been granted with full devotion, strength and with a positive, devotional attitude, and, only when you are “ready” will the Master appear. Before then you can search and search and possibly not find.

From Stephen Parker (Stoma):

I think Mokshadev’s answer is wonderful, and I would only underline that the Guru in its intangible form reaches us all. And before it makes any kind of personal appearance, it will test you, as it tested the person in the story, to see whether you are really listening. I knew Swami Rama in the body for 26 years and certainly had more in-person darshana than most, although it was still very little in terms of clock time. All of his most important and most personal teaching came to me without any familiar form or voice after I had demonstrated some willingness to pay attention. And then it can just as often from beloved friends as from my own buddhi. The great Guru of the Avadhūtas, Dattātreya, listened well enough that he could take instruction from a range of animal teachers.

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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