Your teachers are often people right around you

Ram DassRegarding the question of whether you need a guru: there are stages in your development where you need a guru. However, you’ve got to understand what a guru is. A guru is not a teacher. The relation between the guru and chela is not interpersonal, it’s intrapersonal.

That is, that element of my guru which is a little old man in a blanket over in India is just a little old man in a blanket over in India. He knows everything in my head. He is everything in my head, and he’s as much here as he is there.

If he isn’t as much here as he is there, he’s a hype, and I shouldn’t be thinking of him as a guru, anyway. So therefore the whole idea that I would go anywhere to see the guru must obviously be a fallacy, right? That’s the first part of it.

So then I realize that each person finds his guru as soon as he’s ready to find his guru. That is, as soon as your head is open enough, he’s available to you, because there’s only one of them, in the purest sense, since it’s not connected with ego in that sense, right? So “I’m looking for a guru” is obviously a trip like any other trip.

We’ll call it Looking for the Guru, which is the thing you do before you despair of finding the guru, which is the prerequisite to opening your head to finding the guru. Despair is the necessary prerequisite for the next degree of consciousness. That’s absolutely a prerequisite.

So a lot of what we see in our society as a malaise that we call deep despair and depression is in fact this consciousness transformation that’s occurring, this absolutely necessary prerequisite before we can start to hear the next level, which is a very deep despair and a depression about everything we have going.

Rather than teaching each other to adapt to what we have, it would be better to honor the despair and allow a person to be in that despair until he comes through it, hopefully coming through it in a more evolved fashion, if he’s got support for it.

As far as teachers are concerned, a teacher is wherever you are when you’re ready for that teacher. That is, if you hear enough to ask the question, “How am I going to get on with my work?” and you’d say, “Well, how do I calm my mind down?”
Now asking that question sensitizes you to see a lot of beings around you who have been busy calming their minds down, or teaching people how to calm their minds down, that until then you’ve passed by and never even noticed existed, because you’ve been so busy thinking of them as kooks, nuts, cranks, or people who do those things; but they’re nice guys, anyway. Suddenly that’s the thing about them that you want to know, you see.

And so you begin to find out that your teachers are often people who have been right around you. They’re called Upa Gurus, as opposed to Sat Gurus. The Sat Guru is somebody who beckons from beyond. He’s somebody who’s all finished.
Excerpted from

Ram Dass