Sadhguru on Devotion, Guru, and the Path
In an intimate conversation en route to Kailash, Sadhguru addressed a seeker’s probing questions about the need of devotion and a Guru on the spiritual path.
Questioner: Sadhguru, there are moments when I feel devotion, and at other times, my own will pops up. Given that, can I consider myself a devotee or not?
Sadhguru: There is no human being on the planet who has never experienced moments of devotion, moments of love, moments of joy, and moments of bliss at some time or the other. That does not mean it is your basic quality. One moment of devotion does not make you a devotee. Only when devotion has become the essential quality of your being, are you a devotee. Every human being has an element of devotion. The question is whether they have brought it to a point where it has become the dominant force and the guiding light in their life.
Questioner: If that is the case, can someone be your disciple but not your devotee?
Sadhguru: This is a progression. A lot of people initially either come as curiosity seekers, or sometimes as investigators. Then they think there is something to learn here, and they become like a student. If what they learn begins to transform their lives in some way, they naturally become disciples. When learning, transformation, and everything else becomes irrelevant, when the focus of your life becomes one-pointed, then you become a devotee.
Questioner: But Sadhguru, could I not just follow the path of spirituality through the practices that are given without becoming a devotee, without surrendering everything to the Master?
Sadhguru: Devotion need not necessarily be to a person. Devotion is a certain way to be. If you are on the path, not off and on, but in every moment of your life, you are a devotee. You do not have to be a devotee of anything or anyone in particular. You can be a devotee because devotion is your quality.
Questioner: So if someone has been initiated by you, but he or she is only devoted to the path and not to you as a person, then also, he or she is a devotee?
Sadhguru: What you refer to as the Guru and what you refer to as the path are not different. One is personified, another is not, but they are the same thing. If they are different, they are no good.
Questioner: Sadhguru, you yourself said you walked the path of spirituality for three lifetimes without a Guru.
Sadhguru: The Ultimate did not happen because I differentiated between path and Guru. That way, you may get better lungs, you may get many capabilities, you may become a superhuman. But still, the most significant thing does not happen as long as you make a distinction between path and Guru. As for me, I did so because I was brought up in a tradition where it was always said that the real thing can only happen through Shiva – no other human being can ever do the Ultimate for you. So, accepting another human being as a Guru was out of question.
When the Guru came and the Ultimate did happen, though experientially, it was 100% clear to me that this is it, still there was a little bit of a question why Shiva did not come. At that moment, the Guru took the form of Shiva. It was such a childish desire, but he catered to it and appeared as Shiva.
Questioner: Do seekers need to have a personified Guru? Have there not been many Shaivite saints like Akka Mahadevi, Allama Mahaprabhu, and others who did not have a Guru but were devoted to Shiva or whoever else, and they still got enlightened?
Sadhguru: I think Shiva was their devotee. Another thing is you cannot say they did not have a Guru, because they embraced Shiva completely. He was a living force for them.
Questioner: But wasn’t Shiva a living force for you too?
Sadhguru: He was. Otherwise, I would not have come that far. The Guru did not really push me as such. He just gave me a little nudge, because I had been sitting on the edge for too long.
Questioner: So as a devotee, I can embrace the path itself and not necessarily have a Guru in a physical, human form?
Sadhguru: The path is the Guru and the Guru is the path – there is no difference between the two. The mistake is that we differentiate. Once you differentiate between the two, it becomes unnecessarily complex.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower July 2015. Download as PDF on a “name your price, no minimum” basis or subscribe to the print version.