by Swami Sitaramananda
Answer: The guidance of a spiritual community following a guru lineage is essentially the teaching of life lessons. The education is the grace of the guru helping us to destroy our illusions. The daily training in the ashram requires us to go beyond bodily needs, and likes and dislikes. It requires us to reach out to this universal storehouse of energy using our will, our positive mind and our devotion.
Learning is Every Day
Everyday we learn that we are one, no matter what, a realisation achieved only by diving deep within, by taking recourse to those skills learned in satsangs and lectures. We learn to discriminate between the real and the unreal, the Self and the not-Self, the permanent and the impermanent, that which lifts us up and that which brings us down. We learn dispassion, compassion, forgiveness, control of the mind and the emotions. We learn to see the Self in all.
In the ashram we learn to turn within to discover our inner motives, our emotions, our desires, our contra – dictions and our expectations.
I have learned that for a young spiritual mind to develop a powerful sense of discrimination, it needs to be protected from outside influences. In this way the mind can strengthen by leading a simple and focused life, away from distractions, overload of useless information, and emotionalism. We learn that to care for the world we need to avoid the world drama, and to concentrate only on raising our own vibrations. By doing so we purify our minds.
Seeing the Bigger Picture
Living in the wake of the universal mind of the guru allows for us to feel, in a very direct way, that the world is our family. The guru is concerned about the welfare of the whole world, not only our little corner. As part of an international organization we come into contact with an array of cultures, forcing us to break down any pride we might have in nation, race or gender. We learn to serve all and to find joy in serving all.
A purified mind functions in a different way, not propelled by impulses and emotions, nor governed by intellect, but moved by intuition. The intuitive mind makes no mistakes, since it is coming from a higher source.
Life in the gurukula system is intense and rich. It is not running away from life, but facing it. It is a life of purification. It is not about our separate lives or identity. It is beyond our own ideas. Faith is the final recourse, faith in the teachings of the guru as well as faith in oneself and one’s capacity to attain Self-realisation.