Guru is a word I would have frowned on ten years ago, before I dove into all this spiritual stuff. It would’ve conjured images of glassy-eyed devotees blindly worshipping some long-bearded guy in a flowing robe who was taking advantage of them financially, or worse.
I don’t feel that way now. Sure, there are some crackpots out there who call themselves gurus but who are really charlatans.
My fave guru, Neem Karoli Baba
But there have been some great ones. I’ve written a few articles (links here, here and here) about Neem Karoli Baba, the guru of Ram Dass. I’m looking at him right now as his photo sits on my desk, right next to one of Ram Dass.
This guy was the real deal. I haven’t tackled in depth in any article how and why he’s so amazing. I’ve simply found it too daunting. Someday I will.
But today’s article isn’t about Neem Karoli Baba or any other guru. It’s about the greatest guru of all:
What do I mean by life? Everything that happens to us. From the people in our lives to a tree falling on our car to watching the sun set over the ocean.
Before getting to life as guru, let’s first examine what a guru is. A guru is someone who helps us grow spiritually. Who helps us liberate ourselves from ourselves.
And there is no one person who does a better job of that than life itself.
Why is that? Because unless we’re living in a desert cave, life constantly challenges us. It pushes our buttons. It holds a mirror up to us that says, “This is what you need to let go of.” Every damn day.
Here are some examples, of the small, medium and venti variety…
SMALL: You’re driving home from work and you hit five red lights in a row. When you hit the sixth, you scream and smash your hands against the steering wheel. This is life teaching you to be in the moment and not constantly waiting for future moments — “I just want to get home! Those moments will be great. But these moments waiting at red lights SUCK!”
MEDIUM: Your girlfriend keeps talking to you about how she wants to deepen your relationship. Spend more time together. This sends your insides into a frenzy of panic. Which is a good thing. Why? Because your mother suffocated you in childhood. Helicoptering you. On you about everything. Never leaving you alone. Your girlfriend has been sent by life to stir this egoic baggage up so that you can deal with it. And let go of it. Because that baggage is weighing you down and needs to go.
VENTI: (The biggie.) COVID hit and stopped the entire planet. People died. Millions of shops and restaurants went out of business. Parents had kids at home 24/7. All because some bat in Wuhan, China, bit some hapless exotic animal that was then consumed by a customer at an outdoor market.
This was life telling every single one of us: ‘You can’t control everything so stop trying. Live your life in the moment and do your best with what the Universe has in store for you. Control freak-ness is a losing strategy!’
What’s the point of all this? Let life be your teacher. And yes, your guru.
Look at everything life throws your way as an opportunity to let go and grow.