The day before Guru Purnima I found myself questioning my whereabouts on my spiritual path. Guru Purnima is a sacred day devoted to thanking and honouring your chosen spiritual guides.
Questions along the lines of 'should I have found a guru by now?' 'what actually is and isn't a guru?' and 'can I separate the bad experiences and examples of gurus from my own pursuit?'. Don't get me wrong I am uplifted and inspired on the daily by beautiful creators and thought leaders, but it would feel like a farse to say I had a guru perse.
I wondered also, had I been praying 'properly'? Is what I do praying? Sometimes it's to Mother Earth, and sometimes it's to whichever dear Goddess I last picked from my Mum's deck, does that matter? Confused yet inspired, an internet expedition began, perhaps my guru was just a google search away!
First things first, Oxford Dictionary definition:
'a person who is an expert on a particular subject or who is very good at doing something.'
Some what reductive. Traditionally the term is linked more specifically to spiritual teachers, sages and masters. The tradition originated as a celebration of the great sage Maharshi Veda Vyasa, who wrote and contributed to many of the most epic sanskrit texts including the Marhabarata (the longest poem in the world) which contains many important themes, such as duty, morality, honour, and karma.
I then got on to an article in The India Times that outlined how in order to lead a good life, one must have a guru. Feeling cosmically bummed but still determined, I kept reading, trusting in my quest. I then stumbled upon something I definitely hadn't been taught or considered before;
'First Guru can only be your mother and father who always show you the right path and remove darkness from your life.'
Mum!!! It's Mum!! A duhhh moment more than a lightbulb one really. Ok then Mum, I'm gonna need a sign please. From Google, to the shed. Anyone who's lost one of their dearest will know about the treasure troves. Sometimes painful, sometimes comforting. If there is one thing death teaches us it's paradox, the coexistence of pain and joy. I delved into one of the big zipped ikea bags at random and pulled out a precious photo of a 21 year old Helen sat beaming on a crusty sofa with two little new born babies. I studied to see if I could tell which one was me, I couldn't. Only she would know that.
Ok cute, we're communicating, but I'm gonna need a signier sign Mum. I dig a little deeper and pull out a silver journal. For context my mum kept a diary since she was a child up until she died at 51. Thousands of pages consisting of documenting what she's been up to, who's pissing her off, detailed accounts of pony rides and nights out. I open a random page to an excerpt of a book that she has copied down, with no explanation as to why;
"I'm so scared" she looked down at Serena "I have this rather naive, childish desire to pray "Please God make it alright"
Serena glanced up at her " Why is it naive and childish to pray?" she asked gently.
Because it never works does it? When push comes to shove, we're on our own aren't we?"
Serena looked at her for a moment, an expression of extreme sadness in her eyes.
"I do believe, genuinely that prayer works" (not one of Anna's prayers had)
"Maybe your prayers were heard, but the answer, for reasons you could not at the time comprehend, was no. It is perhaps 'childlike' and 'naive' to expect the answer always to be yes. But if you pray for something that is right for you, then your prayers will be answered, never stop praying Anna."
"But who do I pray to?" Isis? Thoth? The Jesus of my childhood?
"All different aspects of the one great God. Pray to any and all of them"
The text went on a paragraph more but there, in my mum's perfect handwriting, was my prayer answered, my guru showing me the way.
If I hadn't sat in meditation to contemplate all this, I wouldn't have been led to this lesson. I am not one for blind faith but rather base my spiritual development and belief on direct experience, which is exactly what I received, I got what I needed, not what I wanted.
I went through a phase of poo pooing 'the signs' and diluting my dharma. I trust though that each regression serves it's own purpose, the river isn't always flowing, sometimes it dries up or freezes over, sometimes the water is so clear you can see straight through it and drink it up and other times the water is so murky and it stinks.
Meditate when you feel doubtful, meditate upon life's big questions. Don't look up Oxford dictionary definitions of that which cannot be seen, only felt. Define your own Spirituality. Get to know the Self with a capital S. Find your own inner Guru. Pray to any and all of them. And be nice to your Mum :)
I'm like a broken record with this one but SPIRITUAL PRACTICE IS NOT PERFORMATIVE, hence my hesitance to share. But hey, sometimes, over sharing is caring.
I look forward to advancing further on this path and meeting my next Guru in life. For now, it absolutely bloody totally makes sense to me why I haven't found one yet. Not quite ready to move on but being lovingly and divinely pushed in the right direction.