HOW TO VET A SPIRITUAL MENTOR

I wrote this piece on request by the Adhyatmikta page on Facebook. The admins have added a segment at the end dealing specifically with Tantra gurus while my post was a bit more general purpose.

This was how they led in….
A set of fantastic guidelines penned by Sri Rohit Arya on how to vet a spiritual individual/Guru. Particularly relevant to our times when things are not always as they may appear to be.

POINTERS TO VETTING A SPIRITUAL PERSON

21752191_171582570059021_8102284537780865395_n

A common question asked by those interested is – How do we know if the person set up as a Guru or spiritual expert is genuine? What do we look for? What are the signs of credibility or warning? This is a long and fascinating topic but before one ventures an answer something must be realized. What you would find acceptable and credible is more about you, your svabhava and your limits of acceptance than it is about gurus in general or particular. With this caveat in place we can move on.

Pointers to vet a ‘Spiritual Person”

Don’t delude Yourself.

Because you wish for a guru or a mentor don’t be credulous or gullible. What parameters are you employing to judge this person? Is there learning present? Intellect? Wisdom? Scriptural Knowledge? Manifest Shakti? Personality that seems spiritual? What is the visible track record and demonstrated credibility of this person and HOW DO YOU DEFINE any or all of the above?

What you seek demonstrates who you are and while you MAY find what you seek it may NOT be what you need to grow spiritually.

Always look for the impact of this person on others. What sort of disciples does this person have? All cut from the same cloth? All of similar ages, or diverse? All from same strata of society or diverse? Are they bright brainy people or buffoons you will run screaming from? Is there excessive deference? Cult like behavior? Are the disciples and students impressive in their own right, or does the Teacher suck all the air in the room out? Are they people with meaningful lives or those who do nothing but spirituality? What do people not inside the group say about them? Do these people have any friends or even life outside the circle? Does the Teacher? Again, the value you place on any or all of these questions reveals who you are.

What is the person like?

Is there bombast and incredible claims or a focus on the teaching? Claims of being reincarnations of famous teachers, being under direct guidance of great Masters of the past and directly chosen by aliens from other worlds to be the channel of light that will bring illumination to all souls, these are not good signs. In any case people claiming to be reincarnations of famous masters is a good enough reason to avoid that place. The parampara, processes and sadhana are obviously useless for they are not producing new enlightened people. The old lot are being endlessly recycled. Nothing could be more insulting to genuine traditions. There is a tiny chance it might be true but in general not a good development. If on their personal pages and groups you find comments like “When I was Veda Vyasa 5000 years back” it is a pretty good reason to clear out pronto. When you find comments that “Yes, I was told yesterday by Vishwamitra that you are indeed Veda Vyasa” you run, not walk for the exit. These are real examples by the way. Actual people said these things and meant every word.

Is the person willing to reveal the lineage or all they all beings from other dimensions? Has the person been instructed to teach by the Guru or has there been a schism and independent dukan has been opened? What does the person say about any of this?

What is the experience of meeting them like? If you meet them do you feel creeped out? Do you feel challenged? Does the talk, the satsangh and the meditation leave you peaceful and energized or drained out? Do you feel calm or agitated? Pay attention to creepiness. No real teacher will ask for illegal and immoral behavior as such. Immoral may have wide notions of interpretation but illegal is the law. Access may be restricted but when you do get it what do you feel? Is that something you wish to repeat or no?

Do you wish for supernatural things to transpire when meeting them? Most of these ‘abilities’ are very simple conjuring tricks. Some of them are the real deal, but they have nothing to do with spirituality per se. In the guise of spirituality are you seeking for a better standard of living? Too many testimonials are just about that. Is the person a miracle monger or a person who has sensible perspectives? Do they promise miracles or do they prepare you realistically for the long hard slog that genuine spirituality requires.? Any set up that guarantees ‘abilities’ or even enlightenment according to a time table, with the option to speed up the schedule according to increase in donations, hmm…

What are the personal behaviors like?

Does the person sit in a plush environment and preach austerity? Between professions and behavior is there a large gap? What are their notions of acceptable behavior for seekers and do the rich and influential get exemptions? How are people in general treated? Is there a deliberate hustle going on? What is the relationship of the teacher and his outfit to money? Lofty proclamations of service go hand in hand with donation demands? What is the treatment of genders? Access and answers, do they adhere to a system or is it all dependent upon whim and size of donation or potential usefulness? Is there a reputation for nastiness, berating students or exploiting them? Are people free to speak up or is everybody cowed and repressed? If there are many rumors of greed and sexual shenanigans they could be spiteful attacks. They could also be true. Pay attention.

What is the group mindset like?

Is there a lot of balderdash masquerading as spirituality? Are you assured you are the reincarnation of somebody famous? Is famous past lives a vital part of everybody’s self image in the place? I think I have met every famous person who ever lived on the planet in six thousand years of history in this short lifetime of over fifty years. There are so many Cleopatras, nobody who was a slave cleaning the floors. In general any group that prioritizes New Cage notions is not going to help in genuine transformations. Foo foo foo notions instead of actual practices that demand time and commitment are dangerous. Is there support and access for all the inevitable issues that will come up or are you at the tender mercies of people so recently hatched the egg yolk has still not dried? Or even worse celebrity “teachers”. When you sign on for the course do they hustle you with classic cult behaviors designed for inclusion, flatter you that you are now a special person with access to unique knowledge and also isolate you from the world? Are authentic practices being taught which have grounding in dharmic traditions or is it all wind usually pulled out of the rear end? What is the level of commitment expected and are standards rigorous?
So much for the approached.

Now a brief word for the approachee. CAVEAT EMPTOR. BUYER BEWARE.

While that is a perfectly valid position to take – don’t be a jerk. You are seeking and the other party is under no obligation to fulfill the terms of the imaginary contract you make with them in your head. You may have many expectations, but it is not the job of the Teacher of guru or the organization to fulfill any of them. All of them have their own unique ways of dealing with things. If you do not like it or disagree, move on.

If you have certain mental image of how a spiritual teacher should be and the person violates that, the flaw may be in your expectations. It is a great mistake to assume only the phate haal kangal types are the genuine spiritual people and all the others are less than… If you insist on diet and brahmachanrya filters too well that is your right. Insisting on a certain age, gender, learning, attractive appearance all of these are completely beside the point of spiritual transformation. The most unexpected might be the most useful. It is also better to have full access to an unknown guru than an occasional glimpse from afar of a person with millions of followers. Access cannot be overestimated, but it has to be earned and deserved, not demanded straight off the bat.

A person who is unexpected, who shakes up your mental rigidity, who holds you even as you feel your mental constructions of self dissolve, that person can certainly help you, even if he or she is not the guru proper. It is not so well known that from the point of view of rnanubandhana it might well be that you will meet a famous and powerful teacher but he has nothing to give you while a much lesser person can give you everything of his attainment. Don’t be a fool about this. Don’t have ego issues that I am smarter or more educated. Perhaps. But the other person may have something valuable you don’t.

To expect endless access, endless answers and all for free while you make up your mind may seem very reasonable to you but the other side may just see their time being wasted. Value is a two-way street. If perceived that you are there merely to take, many of them will correctly shut you out. Just as you will assess and evaluate, you will be judged too. If found wanting, it may not always be because the other side did not appreciate the glorious blessings you bring to all existence by merely existing.

Stay grounded, stay alert and best of all is to trust in the Divine. When it is time you will be guided to the Teacher you require.

* * * * * *

A few additional points from the Page admins:-

21617689_171582630059015_4103316008871941378_n

1. To add to this, when it comes to Tantrica Gurus the bar is both strict yet simple. The primary idea of Tantra is a bifurcation into the major path and the minor path, one that leads to a communion and permanently transformative vision of the Ishta Devata, or an attainment of specific abilities. Unlike other paths Tantra does not rescind or tell you that siddhis are not be attained, if a seeker is so tuned, or a guru thinks fit, s/he may certainly do sadhana to acquire them. Their use of course is a matter of wisdom and guidance. In any case the point is that Siddhis are perfectly legitimate in this path. So, when a seeker approaches a Tantric master one must be clear on what exactly one is looking for. If the highest is the goal, attainment of communion and the resultant transformation, then find out how many people have been able to attain the same under the direction of the said Guru, test them, test them well and thoroughly. Otherwise if there are claims of supernatural ability then ask for a demonstration. A genuine Guru will of course never display a siddhi merely to make a demostration of it, however if s/he does possess siddhi-s it will be put to use someday or the other, when circumstance so demands. Be patient and wait and observe. Without an external manifestation all claims of supernatural abilities are just that, claims, with no basis. If someone claims to have communion with a deity, then too observe and watch. For each deity has his or her unique nature and abilities and those will be reflected in the individual. This is a natural stage of sadhana, rare stage no doubt but a sadguru is also a rare term not to be trifled with in casual manner. Unless the bar is set clearly in the mind, and judged accordingly, one is most likely to get disillusioned in time.

2. Ramakrishna Paramhamsa used to say that always observe a spiritual man when he is alone, and when he is in public. Is there a difference in behaviour? Is there a tendency to hide things – that’s a trigger for the necessity to hide or create projections is a certain sign that there is some agenda in the mind. An agenda of course is a normal human thing, but impossible when a mind is truly enlightened. The Self has no agenda, neither does a man who has really attained to a transformative and ulimate communion with a Devata – specially one of the major devata-s.

3. On being asked where and how does one judge true enlightenment, Sri Ramana Maharishi used to say you can only figure out an enlightened man if you are yourself in that state, otherwise you will only speculate. Good advice to remember at all times. In other words, if one follows common sense and applies the fundamental ideas of spirituality, one maybe easily able to tell who has NOT reached the ultimate stage. But it is impossible to say with certainty who has actually reached the ultimate stage, unless one has reached the Self himself/herself. Then it’s a different matter anyway.

4. Always judge an individual, spiritual or otherwise, by their actions and the gaps between their words and actions. Actions are what makes a man, words – well even politicians are good at.

5. Ramakrishna once sagaciously adviced one of his core disciples who was cheated at the local market,” I asked you to be a devotee, not a fool.” Prescient advice and valid for all times.

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is  the Founder of the Arya Yoga Sangha and a Lineage Master in a Kundalini path of Yoga. 

Advertisements

THIS BUSINESS OF BEING A MODI ‘BHAKT’

I have been avoiding this issue as there is no sane way to speak about it which does not offend somebody. And being offended is a national pastime now. But it needs saying from a spiritual figure. Since none of the established gurus are doing it I am stepping up. So here goes. May Nataraja preserve me.

If you are a devout Hindu please do NOT say you are a bhakt of the Prime Minister. The word Bhakta is one of the greatest contributions of India’s spiritual culture. It represents an exalted consciousness and a path to mukti – liberation. It does NOT cover being an enthusiastic partisan of a politician. By using it in such a manner you have degraded and denigrated a great spiritual term.

You are NOT a bhakta. You are a partisan or a fan – which is the diminutive of fanatic. You are a chauvinist, after Nicholas Chauvin who adored Napoleon and refused to accept that Waterloo had taken place because – “The Emperor can never be defeated.” The word chauvinist has been ruined because the feminists overused it, but that crowd are all descendants of Bhasmasura so that is not surprising. Whatever they touch they befoul, but in the name of the Sanathana Dharma, why are you lending yourself to such besmirchment of bhakti? Without the spiritual effort needed, the requisite tapasya, you want the title for free?

One of the signature moves of the Breaking India forces is to demean and insult Hindu spiritual concepts as being nonsensiccal and trivial. In using the word bhakt in such a context you have handed them a crushing victory. You have fallen into a ditch they dug for you and the happiest people to see the use of this term will be the likes of Sagarika and her unspeakable husband, or the conversion agenda funded NGOS harridans like Trupti Deai and Teesta Setalvad. Evey sickularist and presstitute must be laughing their heads off every time they see this horrible usage in the mouths of their fiercest enemies.

Now this is not the same thing as picking up a insulting tag and wearing it as a badge of honor. When Hilary called Trump’s people Deplorable they reversed it in one day and made it a rallying cry. They took what was negative and made it a positive source of energy. When the word Bhakt is used in this careless unthinking manner you are taking a transcendental spiritual concept, a state of being that can liberate you, and dragging it through the mud and slime of party politics. That is unacceptable.

When this crowd began to chant “Har Har Modi” in the run up to 2014 it was to his eternal credit that he shut it down instantly. Quite apart from the trivialization of another spiritual chant there is a dangerous power in the phrase that would have devoured him. The chant is raised only in dire circumstances of war and actually it is ‘Hara Hara Mahadeva’ but it releases a certain sort of dangerous Power that is best left dormant unless the situation is critical. Fortunately he angrily instructed that such foolish demonstrations should cease and they did.

It is okay to be an admirer of somebody you think is a great man. When I saw him stand up to Vajpayee in 2002 who was mouthing liberal nonsense of ‘raj dharma’ I loved Modi instantly. I told everybody that this man was the future Prime Minister of India. This at a time when people doubted if he would get one year in the CM seat. Modi was the only success the Hindus had in the days of grahan that was the UPA calamity. So I get it, perhaps much more than most of you who clambered abroad the bandwagon only after his third term began. But your personal admiration does not trump the sanctity of sacred words or sacred concepts. So please stop this. Please cease describing yourselves as Modi bhakts. As Hindus you know better. You can and must do better.

Sarvam Shivamaym!

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is the founder of the Arya Yoga Sangha. He is a yogi of the Kundalini Patanjali streams  of Parampara and a Bhakta of Nataraja.

 

How service becomes virtue signalling

Have you noticed that when people start by speaking of their desire to do seva{service} it somehow, over time, becomes about their tyag and balidan {sacrifice}? There is a grim inevitability to this progression, almost like it is a natural part of aging or something. There is really only one answer to this virtue signalling. It is a rude answer but it is also true. “Nobody put a gun to your head and forced you. You choose to do this because it felt good. What do you want now, a medal?”
This is why I prefer the greedy and selfish. I don’t like them but I prefer them. They are transparent about their self interest, and there is no bear trap in waiting where suddenly you are expected to repay and reward virtuous actions of the past.
As a Guru I get a lot of this. People feel obliged to signal their disinterested virtue and desire to improve society. The moment I see the ‘Improvement’ strand in somebody I back away. That is how things are done in religious circles. Most organizations are held up by what is essentially slave labor, long hard hours of unpaid and unrecognized work but since it has cultural sanction, it is not seriously challenged. I consciously chose not to go that route knowing it would limit growth but I could not cast myself as a slave driver. Now I am virtue signalling! But I have never blathered about seva so I can risk it.
I freely confess I was shattered and disheartened when Narendra Modi of all people, got onto the moral high horse of sacrifices made. It completely demoralized me. Then I became angry. How dare he pull this stunt on us? If this is so important to you then take a leaf out of Nehru’s book and give yourself an award. But dont make such undignified exhibitions in public. This is the Congress playbook and we, quite reasonably, expected different from him. My personal take is that working between 14 to 18 hours a day or whatever the myth making number so beloved of fans, has left him with very little time to do serious sadhana. He probably got into the ‘this is karma yoga’ mindset. This man who was the most hard nosed and unshakeable personality is now weeping copiously at every opportunity, One RSS person complained to me about this new sentimentality on display and my answer was a} why tell me? and b} check out if the weeping fits occur on days near Pournami, the full moon. Of course they do. Modi had the karmic potential to become a liberated soul but this time round it has settled for being a great ruler. That happens in yoga all the time.
Now the point of this post is not our PM. I still think he is the best man we have – even if I think he has made a catastrophic blunder. So the fanboys and fangirls may please spare me their ululations and ignorant enthusiasms designed to bring me into the light. I do not abide sanctimony from anybody.

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is the founder of the Arya Yoga Sangha – a Kundalini based system of the Integral{Arya} Yoga. He is a Yogi, Author and Polymath.

Where Karma dies in the seed – Perur Pateeshwara Shiva temple

e954e34fd28513e682c82ee7f8cd4c83

A kshetram so powerful in dissolving karma that the sacred tamarind tree has seeds that do not sprout. The Perur Shiva temple near Coimbatore city in Tamil Nadu has sculptural marvels and is an unknown treasure for yogis. The Shivalingam is svambhu and of a quality and vibrational energy that is distinct and somewhat strange until you realize what it is doing… stilling the constant movement of karmic potential.  This temple is called Melai Chidambaram or Chidambaram of the West and while it may not match the peerless kshetram of Chidambaram it is of immense value in itself.

2006BB6208_jpg_ds

Elaborate carving everywhere though the current structure seems to be of late Nayak period… 17 century or so

Perur-Patteeswarar-Temple-(2)_800X600_original_watermark

Part of the Sthala Purana, Kamadhenu the divine cow worshiped a Shiva lingam inside an anthill hoping to become the next Brahma. Why she wanted such a thankless job is never revealed in the story. Her calf, annoyed at being neglected kicked over the anthill. Kamadhenu was appalled at this act but Shiva being Shiva was deeply amused and granted her a slew of wishes plus bonus blessings for mere mortals who visit the site. Our temples are always generous in the matters.

the_splendor_that_was

It is the Kanaga Sabhai, the hall of Nataraja that is the stunning aspect of this temple. I had thought that the Elephanta caves Shivas were the pinnacle of Shaivaite art but something was left in the toolbox yet and this miracle of sculpture emerged. 8 larger than life murtis, part of the stone itself… just astonishing… or they would be were they not locked up behind ugly cages now.

images

This comfort with the unaesthetic and ugly is a strange aspect of modern Hindusim…

the Kanaga Sabhai was built in 34 years, from 1625 to 1649 by the architect Kambanarchari… under the patronage of the Nayak kings. it is a deeply symbolic structure… suffused with Shaivaite theology…

The Kanaga Sabhai has 36 Pillars representing the 36 tenets of Saiva Sidhanta. There are fifteen steps situated at three different levels. Each set of five steps represents the Panchakshara –  the five letters of the sacred Mantra of Shiva, “Om Na Ma Shivaya” The garbha griha of Nataraja has four pillars representing the four Vedas…Nine windows stand for the nine grahas or celestial objects of Hindu thought and also the nine dvaras or openings of the human body. As explained before the temple is deemed to be capable of granting liberation from karmic influence. It is interesting to note that the Dhayana lingam created by Jaggi Vasudev at the Isha foundation which is about 20 kms from Perur is also supposed to plant a seed of liberation within you, which dries up all other karmic seeds. Must be something about Coimbatore that helps to drop karma….

2005052700390303

Nrithya Ganapati, the dancing form

2005052700390304

Urdhava Tandava murti, an esoteric aspect of Nataraja and his 108 karanas

2005052700390305

One of the most brilliant interpretations of Bhadrakali ever seen

2005052700390306

Skanda of the six faces, his sixth face is inside the pillar

2005052700390307

Veerabhadra in his wrath at the Daksha Yagya

aghora-and-agni-veerabhadra

Old illustration showing Veerabhadra and also a rare form of Agni Veerabahdra, the one one the right

7

the pics are sourced from the net as permission to shoot is a huge huge pain

3

Bhikshantana moorti… Shiva as the nude yogi…it is also Interestingly called the Sarva Loka vaseekara murti, the enchanter of all the Worlds

Perur_1

19th or early 20th century photograph, of veerabhadra… it now needs protection in a cage, such is so called progress

2005052700390308

Gajasamhara murti, just extraordinary in its power

perur-sivantemple

A senseless practice that the ASI of Tami Nadu is addicted to , slathering all murtis in the name of protection and making them dreadfully ugly and even shapeless

perur

Another old illustration

The Great Gorakshanth is also supposed to have spent significant time at this temple. His spot is a grove and is unmistakable in its fierceness. I have said this many times before, but the yogis and temples of South India are beyond belief, they actually succeeded in making a kshetram of the whole land. Today the consecrated space has fragmented but even spots remain for those who are serious about their yoga…

Sarvam Shivamayam!

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is a Yogi , Author and Polymath, being a Spiritual Mentor, a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation corporate training outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He founded the Arya Yoga Sangha in 2013 and leads multiple meditation circles each week.

The videos of his talks on various subjects can be found here http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAryayogi

His blogs can be accessed here

https://aryayogi.wordpress.com/

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/

http://creativeaye.wordpress.com/

http://zestandgrit.wordpress.com/