How to find spiritual master

By Swami Bhakti Aloka Paramadvaiti

Dear friend, a spiritual master is the person that teaches us the Truth. In Indian culture, having a spiritual master is so important, so basic, that every person when they reach 12 years of age, searches for their spiritual master and receives the sacred mantras. The spiritual master gives instructions based on Vedic culture about how to attain self-realization and how to practice the sacred science of yoga. The spiritual master is a great necessity for all of us; in our modern society, we have a master for everything, a master for computers, a master for marketing, a master for mechanics, but we do not have masters that teach us the science of the soul and how to awaken the eternal love in our heart.

In order to find a spiritual master; the principal requirement is to desire to find him. This means that one should have the disposition to eliminate the errors made in life and accept the virtues that bring one to spiritual perfection. The process of finding a spiritual master is explained in the Vedic scriptures; we start with a prayer asking that the Supreme Lord guide us towards the master that will teach us how to come to Him. The original spiritual master is in our heart; he is the Supersoul, Paramatma. He is the internal voice or the guardian angel. He knows everything and is always our protector, instructing us on our path towards the Light. When we desire to have a spiritual master, we request assistance from Paramatma, so that He will give us intelligence and show us the road to Him. The first prayer that we should make is from the Ramayana, an Indian classic: "Oh my Lord, I do not know who You are, or where You are, but You are omnipotent and omniscient. Please hear my prayer. Today I beg You to take charge of my life, I surrender myself to You; but I have a great problem, I don't know what You want from me. From now on my life will be Yours, I am going to eliminate everything that I can understand You don't like and am going to try to apply and practice in my life everything that my heart tells me that You like!" When a devotee, a yogi, a sincere spiritual soul, prays in this way, the Lord from there on takes charge of his path.

The spiritual master is called "guru"; "gu" is obscurity and "ru" means he who removes it from us. He tells us the Truth even if it hurts us; and keeps us occupied in the common cause, in loving service to God. He also shows us the path of yoga, teaches us the techniques of meditation and allows us to enter his family. We are able to find a spiritual master solely due to the infinite mercy of the Lord who knows everything. The spiritual masters come from a disciplic succession; from a chain of masters, they practice spiritual life, humility, simplicity and they are always ready to help their disciples. When the devotee finds his spiritual master, he prays to him in this manner:

om ajñana timirandasya jñanam jñana salakaya
caksur unmilitan yena tasmai sri gurave namah.

"I offer my most humble obeisances to my spiritual master who has opened my eyes which were blinded by ignorance with the light of knowledge."

In order to accelerate the process of finding a spiritual master, we should become vegetarians, refrain from intoxicating this body, be chaste [which means to not have extramarital sexual relations or to be faithful to one's spouse (in the case of one who is married)] and to eliminate all useless games, such as gambling; in addition, we should try to dedicate ourselves during the day to chant the mahamantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, to read "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" and to unite ourselves with persons who have a spiritual master or who are also searching for one.

We should offer our food to God. We can do this with the same mahamantra; in this way, we can ask Him to help us with the details of our spiritual path so that everything that comes to us, allows us to advance spiritually. A person that searches for a spiritual master with sincerity is going to find him in one manner or another. He manifests himself in a dream, in a personal encounter, in a book or in any form that God chooses to send His confidential representative to guide you to Him. Spiritual masters establish a common cause and allow us to enter into a family of devotees, where there are many persons struggling for the same cause in harmony, without selfishness and without competition and giving each one of their members a refuge, a place of enthusiasm that is an oasis in the middle of the desert of material existence. Life without a spiritual master is like a beautiful home, but without a roof. I hope that you are successful in your search and in your encounter with your spiritual master and that you are serious so that you will be able to take advantage of this gift that you will receive by the mercy of God.

Swami B.A. Paramadvaiti
Translation: Erica Wolski