As we approach Guru Purnima on July 9, we look back at the historical tradition of this nation which revered the Guru – a culture which is unfortunately almost lost in modern times. Though Guru Purnima today is seldom noted, this celebration was once cherished throughout the country. To revive this culture of respect, we present a collection of inspiring stories from the lives of Gurus past, narrated by Sadhguru, which illustrate the unique methods each teacher employed to bring transformation to his disciples.
In the stories below, Gautama Buddha surprises a seeker with an inscrutable command, while Sufi master Byazid weeps at a potential disciple’s lack of understanding.
Sadhguru: What does it mean when we say being with a Guru? What is needed? If you sit here as an observer or even a student, you will miss the whole aspect of what it means to be with a Guru because, if all you need is a teaching or a little bit of guidance, you do not need a Guru as such. There are many teachers who can do that, there are scholars who can do that, there are books which can do that. “Being with a Guru” means you are seeking direct action. You are not seeking guidance, you are not seeking help – you are seeking direct action. If that has to happen, what is needed and how do you need to be?
Gautama Says “Drop It”
On a certain day, a man came to see Gautama the Buddha. Gautama was sitting alone in a small enclosure, and the man came with two handfuls of flowers because that is a normal way in India to greet your Guru. As the man came towards him, Gautama looked at him and said, “Drop it.” When he said this, the man thought because he brought these flowers as an offering, Gautama was telling him to “drop it”. Then he thought, “Maybe because I am carrying it in my left hand, it is inauspicious.” This is also part of the culture; if you give something to somebody with your left hand, it is considered inauspicious. So he thought maybe because of that he was asking him to drop it, and he dropped the flowers in his left hand and then went on in an appropriate way. Gautama once again looked at him and said, “Drop it.” Now he did not know what to do. What was wrong with the flowers? He dropped the rest of the flowers. Then Gautama said, “I said drop it, not the flowers.” The one who brought the flowers, you have to drop that, otherwise you will not know the Buddha. You will come, you will bow down, you will listen, you will go, but you will not know what it means to be with an enlightened one. You will completely miss the possibility.
If you want to add a completely new dimension to your life, you have to drop that, not something else. Dropping your work, dropping your family, dropping this and that does not mean anything. You have to drop this one – only then something can happen. Right now what you call as “myself” is just a bundle of thoughts, emotions, ideas, opinions, and belief systems. If you do not drop that, where is a new possibility? Are you just trying to decorate the old stuff with some extras? That is not going to help; that is going to make things more and more difficult. But if I just say “drop it,” it does not drop off. So there are methods and procedures to be brought in so that this dropping happens.
Byazid and the Seeker’s Ignorance
One of the most prolific and beautiful spiritual masters of all time was Byazid, a Sufi master, who at one time had thousands of monks in his place. He was an extremely beautiful person and a man of immense capability. One day a man came seeking spiritual liberation, of course. Byazid looked at him and said, “Yes.” He came and asked, “Will you accept me as your disciple?” Byazid looked at him and said, “Yes, I will, but there are a few conditions and duties to be fulfilled.” “What are those?” the man asked. Byazid said, “You have to draw the water, you have to chop the wood, mop the floors, cook and clean.” That man got up and said, “I came here looking for the ultimate truth, not for employment,” and he left. Byazid just looked at the moon and wept.
These simple procedures are set up so that you learn to drop yourself, but people do not want to do them. They think spirituality means they must be doing this, this, and this only. They think mopping the floor is not spirituality, chopping the wood is not spirituality, cleaning the dishes – definitely not. They have some fancy idea of what spirituality is.
Editor’s Note: Celebrate Guru Purnima by joining Satsang with Sadhguru at Isha Yoga Center. Pre-register here. Learn more about Guru Purnima and how you can prepare yourself for the immense possibility that the night offers.