The follow is a transcription from the Vedanta and Silence course taught by Swami Sitaramananda in Grass Valley, CA, November 2016.
Our tendency is to look outside for the answers
The Guru is like a mirror, a true mirror of yourself. You look at the mirror and all of the sudden the answer comes. Where does the answer come from? From within. The answer is there. This is part of the philosophy of Jnana Yoga.
When you look out, what do you see? You see a door, you see a curtain, you see this gentleman here. You see things. Then you compare yourself to it, yes or no?
- You are there–I am here.
- I sit high–you sit low.
- This place has sun–this place has no sun
You have plenty of interpretation about everything because the mind is looking outside and you have no mirror to show you how to look; how to get the answer. But in fact the answer is there.
You get the answer in many different ways. Sometimes you have to hear it, sometimes the teacher has to shout and still you don’t get it. Sometimes you just think of the teacher and you get it. You just think–you don’t need to do anything. It depends on your purification, that means how sattvic or pure your mind is.
You can learn more about this practice by reading this article on How to Practice Silence and Introspection.
Why we need to learn from the Guru in person
Most of the time you have to be in the Guru’s presence. Why do you need be in the physical presence of the Guru?
The reason is: you identify with your body. You think, “This is called me: the body.” Therefore, you have to see the person in body form so you understand yourself because you have that experience of the physical body. If the Guru has a physical body like you, then you understand how the person can have this higher thinking while having the body.
How did they transcend the physical body while in the body, and how are you going to do it? Because you have to transcend or go beyond the body experience in order to understand there is no separation, is it not?
That’s the aim and purpose of the whole yoga teaching. There is no separation. And yet, the moment you identify with the body there will be the “I” and the “you” and there will be the multitudes–that means there will be the many.
When there are the many, then you will get lost. You are no longer understanding, “Who am I?” because you get lost in the multitude.
You think: “I try this, I like this, I like this too! And this is better than this, and this is better than this, and I am suffering from this, I’m suffering from that…” Ten thousand reasons why you are unhappy and restless and why you suffer!
You have to have the experience of seeing a person physically that has transcended that idea in order for you to see: “Oh it’s possible. If I want to understand that, I have to also transcend the body idea.” You see?
So it’s a direct learning lesson. That’s why the scriptures and the teachers say that you need to have a Guru in person.
You can learn more about this practice by reading this article on Learn from the Spiritual Masters and Become Wise.
The Real Guru is Within
The main principle is the principle of turning inward and finding the truth that is within. And seeing the Guru as the mirror. But for some, just a thought and they got it. They don’t need to have senses to see.
[Referring to the group] I want to see you; I see you but I see you with my senses. I see you wear yellow; I see you cut your hair short. I see you with my senses and I say, “Oh, this is so-and-so.” What do I see? I see a body. I intuit a little bit there’s something within this body. Nevertheless, I see the package. I don’t really see what is inside. The package covers what is inside.
Some people are able to see the inside without the package. It depends on their level. It’s possible for them to see the truth even though the Guru is not alive. It depends on your faith and desire, but it mostly it depends on your faith.
You can learn more about this practice by reading this article on Self Awareness and Intuition.