[Advaita-l] An anecdote

Ryan Armstrong ryanarm at gmail.com
Sun Apr 1 17:44:05 EDT 2018

Namaste Again

Before offering answers, I must explain my understanding of the word "guru".
I present an allegory:
To get to the top of Mount Everest, I would first look at some maps and
read guide books.
Then I would approach a local who has already been to the summit and ask
for his guidance.
I would need to trust the local's judgment and should he say "Go left" and
I willfully go right, I cannot expect to have him lead me to the summit.
The maps and books are like the scripture, the guide is the method
personified in the guru.
If the guide has not summited the mountain, can I expect his leadership to
be true?

In the case of the guru, having the intrinsic knowledge of "Who I am", the
student cannot know what to expect but would need to trust.
A teacher without this knowledge should not, in my understanding, be
referred to as guru.

> What is the reason for the student, even after listening to the teaching,
> cannot know the *vastu*?
Listening is only the first step.
It constitutes the श्रवणम् . The student is still required to practice
मननम् and निदिध्यासनम् in order to have the scripture infuse the being.
If this is not done, the knowledge remains only at the level of information.
Other parts of the teaching may take the form of a direction from the guru
to perform such and such action or austerity.
Unless the student practices the teaching in all aspects of life, the vastu
will not become clear.

> Is there something lacking  in the student because of which he cannot know
> the *vastu*?
 Ultimately, the student lacks nothing.
But (as in the previous post) I believe I am lacking, and so I lack...

> Or there is something wrong with the method of teaching by the Guru ?
I am not sure if I am qualified to speak on the guru's method.
Perhaps some methods are more accessible to certain people - I cannot
really say.

My own case is quite interesting in that I do not have a "direct" guru.
I live in South Africa, and belong to a School which was founded in London.
The founder sought contact with the wise and came under the direction of a
>From this direction, the School follows the teachings and whilst there are
extremely devout, still and wise people in the School I have no direct
contact with a guru.

I have raised concerns about this within the school, and our present leader
told me that these same concerns had been raised in the London School.
He posed this question to His Holiness: Can members of the School achieve
liberation without direct contact with the maha-purusha?
His answer was "Perhaps"
And then he told the story of a young boy whose parents had let a room in
the house to a wise man.
The holy man would spend hours in the room meditating.
The young boy would sit in imitation of the wise man, curious as to why he
sat motionless for so long.
Day after day, he began sitting alongside the saint in pure imitation until
one day, the smallest particle of bliss came to him and he "tasted" what
the saint was experiencing.

The story seems to point to the desire of the student being of the most
In another example, a couple of months ago, one of the members of the group
posted a YouTube link to an interview with Kanakammal, a devotee of Ramana
At three points in the half hour of the video, she was describing a
recollection of the Bhagavan with such purity, the shakti of the Bhagavan
became present.
The heart burned with great love and tears were streaming from the eyes - a
small reminder of the eternal presence which is the Bhagavan.

Is it that the student has not been taught by the Guru the standpoint from
> which the teachings have to be intereorized?
This is a good point, but again would vary.
Different teachers have used various methods of instruction.
Another post on this forum in recent weeks was a quotation of Ramana
Please excuse the paraphrase, but he speaks of waking in the morning and
looking in a mirror.
It informs you that you need to shave. any other mirror will provide the
same information - but you still need to shave.
The initial parallel was to the scriptures as mirrors, but in a way the
guru is equally a mirror - He can show the way but it is up to you to take

Is it that the Guru himself has not the capacity to help / guide the
> student to cognize the *vastu *within himself by himself?
Years ago I read a book "Autobiography of a Yogi" and in it, Yogananda
describes how his guru tapped him in the region of the heart and he
perceived "cosmic consciousness".
Aadi Shankara imbued Shri Thotakaacharya with the full knowledge of the
shastra in a mental movement.
What efforts had these made, perhaps over millenia, to be shown such grace?

Again, I can only speak of my situation.
I once spent a few hours with the founder of our School.
I had asked several questions and received answers.
Then he was silent.
For a while, the mind jumped around looking for a "good question".
I looked over at him and he was regarding me with complete dispassion and
equally complete awareness.
I smiled at him but he remained unchanged in his regard, and eventually,
the mind settled and the being rested in the sat of the moment.
The force of that presence is still in effect today!

Finally - the guru cannot provide the Vision of the Vastu - nothing can
provide it because it is ever present and ever-realised.

I request you to provide the relevant replies to remove these doubts of
> mine. Thanking you in anticipation,
> With respectful namaskars,
> Sreenivasa Murthy
With Warmest Wishes

Ryan Armstrong
+27 82 852 7787
ryanarm at gmail.com

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list