Sunday, December 07, 2008

Satguru | The Teacher of Truth | Kamil Murshid

1.
Show us the straight path,
The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace ..
- The Quran 1:6,7

Is there somebody who can take me to the Lord?
I will go to him, touch his feet and kiss his hands, and serve him faithfully, him, who can take me to the Lord.
- a Sikh prayer hymn

2.
The sanskrit word Satguru (also written as Sadguru) is a very beautiful and powerful term pregnant with meanings and illumination by itself. The original word Satguru literally means true master, can also be interpreted as teacher of truth. It is used to describe a universal concept which is found in almost all spiritual traditions. An equivalent modern western notion of Satguru (pronounced as Saatguru) would be a realized spiritual teacher in reality, not in title or self-proclamation.

In Hindu Vedanta Satguru is the Perfect Master. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Perfect Master is the one who have achieved Buddhahood and who is thoroughly conversant with the noble truth of self-realization. In Sikhism its termed as puran Parmesar. In Sufism, a perfect master or Qutub (literally meaning pole, lighthouse) is the Shaykh who provides a focus for spiritual training and guidance; and often Qutub refers to the highest living master of any time. From sufi perspective Sadguru may not necessarily be only the Qutub but authentic shaykh who is linked through spiritual transmission from Qutub or Perfect Master. Kamil Murshid means the Realized Master, Guide who has attained.

3.
Messengers and Prophets | the archetype of true masters

What Buddha was to his sangha, what Jesus was to his elect disciples, what Moses was to the children of Israel, what Muhammad, the Messenger was to his holy companions - that same tradition is kept alive between a satguru, a true master or murshid and his students. In islamic spiritual path this is a very valued tradition that the transmission of divine gnosis (haqiqa) and proper conduct (adab) be transmitted, learned and continued through the relationship of a murshid (shaykh, pir or master of the path). Sufi Abu Said ibn Abil Khayr said, "The spiriutal master is to his community, what the prophet is to his nation (ummah)."

Unfortunately many orthodox, literalists have forgotten or underestimate its importance in Islamic tradition and thus they criticize the sufis who have kept the way of the Prophet alive. The way of the Prophet Muhammad and all previous mighty prophets including that of Jesus was the way of heart to heart transmission from the teacher to his companions / disciples.

Its worth reminding that the very opening chapter of the Quran, al-Fatiha (which is the most frequented prayer used by muslims) ends with the invocation and reminder of the guidance of those true masters, gnostics and friends of God who are rightly guided.

Ihdina alssirata almustaqeem. Sirata allatheena anAAamta AAalayhim ghayri almaghdoobi AAalayhim wala alddalleen.

Show us the straight way. The WAY Of THOSE upon whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not Thy wrath, and who go not astray. (The Quran 1:6,7)

4.
Transmission of One from one to one

The Lord of Mighty Power has taught him.
- The Quran 53:5

The sufis say that you need a teacher as a guide on the mystical path. The teacher is someone who is surrendered to God and is able to help the wayfarer make the transition from the ego to the Self. In surrendering to the teacher, fana fi Sheikh, the disciple learns to surrender to God, fana fi' Llah.
- Llewellyn Vaughan Lee, contemporary teacher of Golden Sufi lineage, Traveling the Path of Love.

Grace of God takes the form of the guru. .. Man can learn from man only, and hence, God teaches through a human body. The guru is united with God. The guru is verily a link between the individual and the Immortal. He tears your veil of ignorance. (credit)

No human being can communicate with God except through inspiration, or from behind a barrier, or by God's sending a Messenger, through whom He reveals what He wills. He is the Most High, Most Wise. (The Quran 42:51)

Before thee, also, God sent messengers who were human beings, to whom was granted inspiration.. (The Quran 21:7)

5.
Because of many fraudulent so called spiritual teacher (many self-proclaimed without authentic transmission and permission to become a guide) in the modern times many have developed a very dubious and skeptic view about the need for teacher in the spiritual journey. But fraudulent teachers, cheaters and con men are always there in all disciplines including so called 'spiritual business'. In this dense world no sector is free from blameworthy people who try to take advantage of others. The existence of 'fake diamond' doesn't dismiss that real diamond exist, rather it confirms the reality of real diamonds (otherwise there wouldn't be any fake ones), and truly the real diamonds are rare. But what is important is that real diamond exists, they have always existed. And like real diamonds they (true teachers) are most of the time hidden, elusive (from common folks) and one need to make the effort to find the mine and painstakingly reach to it.

Some also try to make the argument that people don't need a spiritual teacher. Its like saying since there are libraries and there are books available of all possible subjects - we don't need schools, universities and teachers. Just because one can read and there are books available in library doesn't mean self-study will produce scientists, engineers and scholars of high merit.

Just as self-study in secular matter has very little probability of producing specialists - and thus majority of the people won't reach any respective level if one is left alone with piles of book in a multistoried library - the reality is even more applicable for spiritual journey. A subject of physical science such as physics or chemistry need a classroom, laboratory and also teachers who's knowledge is based upon hundreds of previous experimental and theoretical scientists. Human knowledge by its very nature is built upon generations after generation and transmitted from past to present.

To assume that the knowledge of the spiritual path and its attainment and its refinement need no guide and it need no transmission from those who have attained before the present time is not the correct view point, rather a serious mis-judgment. Yes there are exceptions and the door of Divine grace is infinitely wide. So some are guided without a guide, some are helped to reach the door of realization with faceless guide. But the common rule of the spiritual journey has always been taken with a realized guide, a living human being. And this science of transmission through lineage and guide is a central aspect of sufism which is the core of Islam.

Ask the people of remembrance if you know not.
- The Quran 16:43

In Tawawwuf or sufism or science of the heart, a guide is prepared after long time companionship with previous authentic teacher (in a lineage that trace back to the Prophet), after training and only after given the transmission, proper knowledge (gnosis) and permission (ijaza) to guide others, one becomes a guide or master. Thus a guide in sufi path is not comparable to 'just a spiritual teacher'. It is a well developed science and based upon the divine model of the way of the illuminated messengers and their companions.

Search, no matter what situation you are in.
O thirsty one, search for water constantly.
Finally, the time will come when you will reach
the spring.
- Rumi

6.
Follow those who do not ask reward from you ..

Then there arises the question of how to find the real guru. Very often people are in doubt, they do not know whether the guru they see is a true or false guru. Frequently a person comes in contact with a false guru in a world where there is so much falsehood. But at the same time a real seeker, one who is not false to himself, will always meet with the truth, with the real, because it is his own real faith, his own sincerity in earnest seeking that will become his torch. The real teacher is within, the lover of reality is one's own sincere self, and if one is really seeking truth, sooner or later one will certainly find a true teacher.
- Pir O Murshid Inayat Khan

In this world of materialism a very practical criteria to find a teacher of Truth is revealed in the Quran through this following verse:

FOLLOW THOSE WHO DO NOT ASK A REWARD FROM YOU AND WHO ARE RIGHTLY GUIDED. (The Quran 36:21)

"Those who do not ask a reward from you" is the philosopher's stone to distinguish whether a teacher is true or not. A teacher of Truth gives without asking anything in return materially or otherwise.

Example from brotherhood of messengers are given in the Quran again and again with the universal principle that the true guide never asks reward:

Those were (the guides / message bearers) who received God's guidance: follow the guidance they received; Say: "No reward for this do I ask of you: This is no less than a message for humanity." (The Quran 6:90)

Say O Muhammad: "No reward do I ask of you for this, nor am I a pretender." (The Quran 38:86)

Noah said, "No reward do I ask of you for it: my reward is only from the Lord of the Worlds." (The Quran 26:109)

To the tribes of 'Aad (was sent) Hud, one of their own brethren. He said: "O my people! worship God! ye have no other gods but One God. (Your other gods) ye do nothing but invent! O my people! I ask of you no reward for this (Message). My reward is from none but Him who created me: Will ye not then understand?" (The Quran 11:50,51)

Say: "No reward do I ask of you: it is in your goodness: my reward is only due from God: And He is witness to all things." (The Quran 34:47)

7.
Proof of Authenticity of True Master

Sufi master Abu said ibn Abul Khayr was asked, "Who is the spiritual guide who has attained to Truth, and who is the sincere disciple?"

The Shaykh replied, "The spiritual guide who attained to Truth is he in whom at least ten characteristics are found, as proof of his authenticity:

First, he must have become a goal, to be able to have a disciple.
Second, he must have traveled the mystic path himself, to be able to show the way.
Third, he must have become refined and educated, to be able to be an educator.
Fourth, he must be generous and devoid of self-importance, so that he can sacrifice wealth on behalf of the disciple.
Fifth, he must have no hand in the disciple's wealth, so that he is not tempted to use it for himself.
Sixth, whenever he can give advice through a sign, he will not use direct expression.
Seventh, whenever he can educate through kindness, he will not use violence and harshness.
Eighth, whatever he orders, he has first accomplished himself.
Ninth, whatever he forbids the disciple, he has abstained for himself.
Tenth, he will not abandon for the world's sake the disciple he accepts for the sake of God.

If the spiritual guide is like this and is adorned with these character traits, the disciple is bound to be sincere and a good traveler, for what appears in the disciple is the quality of the spiritual guide made manifest in the disciple."

As for the sincere disciple, the Shaykh said, "No less than the ten characteristics which I mention must be present in sincere disciple, if he is to be worthy of discipleship:

First, he must be intelligent enough to understand the spiritual guide's indications.
Second, he must be obedient in order to carry out the spiritual guide's command.
Third, he must be sharp of hearing to perceive what the spiritual guide says.
Fourth, he must have an enlightened heart in order to see the spiritual guide's greatness.
Fifth, he must be truthful, so that whatever he reports, he reports truthfully.
Sixth, he must be true to his word, so that whatever he says, he keeps his promise.
Seventh, he must be generous, so that whatever he has, he is able to give away.
Eighth, he must be discreet, so that he can keep a secret.
Ninth, he must be receptive to advice, so that he will accept the guide's admonition.
Tenth, he must be chivalrous in order to sacrifice his own dear life on the mystic path.

Having these character traits, the disciple will more easily accomplish his journey and more quickly reach the goal set for him on the mystic path by the spiritual guide.

8.
Do not take a step
on the path of love without a guide.
I have tried it
one hundred times and failed.
- Hafiz

Whoever travels without a guide
needs two hundred years for a two-days journey.
- Rumi

The moment you are united with the masters, it become effortless.
- Bhai Sahib

# Reference:
. Traveling the Path of Love: Sayings of Sufi Masters
edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

# Further:
. Sufis Religion
. A History of Perfect Masters
. Jesus as a teacher
. Jesus as Teacher and Pedagogical Method
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