Shekhar Kapur joins Sadhguru in conversation on the predicament of being a living Guru. The filmmaker points out that while the world readily worships people who have passed away, they have difficulty accepting a Guru during his lifetime.

Shekhar Kapur: Sadhguru, a large part of the problem people have when they think about a Guru is if the Guru is alive. If you look at the world, everybody worships people that have passed away.

I’ve known you as a friend, I hug you as a friend, but I can touch your feet, because you’re a realized man, you’re a Guru. Why is it so difficult for people to make out that difference? They say, “Well, he’s a man after all, and why is he claiming to be a realized man? We believe all realized men only become realized when they’re gone.”

Sadhguru: They have to be dead. Unfortunate, isn’t it?

Shekhar Kapur: Yeah. I was trying not to use that word, but they have to be dead. That’s a big problem. So, let’s talk about that.

Sadhguru: This is because if you have to see value with what is here now, you need a certain intelligence and awareness. To say that someone who was here a thousand years ago was great and to worship him is very easy because a million people are saying so. Everybody is fascinated by the past because generations of people have said so.

Even when a Krishna was alive, how many people really recognized him? Duryodhana said about him, “This guy can play with a child, fight with a man, make love to a woman, gossip with old women… This is no God. This is a rogue.” That’s how they would have seen him. Now, thousands of years later, it is very easy because everybody is saying, “Krishna is God,” so you also say it. You are just joining a gang, you are not seeing anything about Krishna as such.

But if you have to recognize something that is alive in front of you today, you need a certain capability, awareness and intelligence. When Jesus was alive, you know what horrible things they did to him. Now, half the world wants to worship him. When he was there, only a handful of people got it. After he is gone, everybody does it. This is just a fan club, not disciple-hood.

Shekhar Kapur: So, let’s talk about the concept of a Guru. What is a Guru and how does one find a Guru? And why is it that different people have different Gurus? Like there is one God, there could be one Guru, right?

Sadhguru: This is wrong. In India, we have 36 million gods and goddesses! So, what is a Guru? Gu means “darkness”, ru means “dispeller” – one who dispels your darkness is a Guru. You can call him a light bulb if you want. He is on. That’s all. What you cannot see, he is able to make you see – that’s a Guru. Or to put it in other terms, essentially, because you are trying to make a journey and you are seeking a Guru, he is like a live roadmap. When you want to travel uncharted terrain, you will find a roadmap is extremely important. In the tradition, they say, “Guru is greater than God,” because a live roadmap is more important than anything when you are lost in unknown terrain.

“Can’t I find my way without a Guru?” This question is coming from a certain egoistic standpoint. “Why can’t I do it myself?” See, you are using a watch, right? I’ll give you all the parts for the watch. You build your own watch, let me see. I’m not asking you to build a computer or a spacecraft. Even for a simple thing like a watch, you may take a lifetime. So you go to a watchmaker for a watch. So, what’s your problem going to a Guru for something that you do not know?

Editor’s Note: Offering the rare possibility to go beyond all limitations, Sadhguru takes the seeker on a mystical journey towards ultimate liberation. In the ebook “A Guru Always Takes You For a Ride”, Sadhguru delivers rare insights into the Guru-shishya relationship. Name your price and download.

A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower August 2010.