The Day of the Guru

The guru, specialist, consultant, expert…I could have used any of these words interchangeably to say what I want to say. The person who ‘knows better than I’. I thought the day of the Guru was over – and, to some extent, it is. I have always believed that this is the era of finding the inner guru, the inner knowledge. And so, I have looked on with amusement, but also with wistfulness, at friends and acquaintances who find a guru. The amusement is because I find it difficult to believe someone else may know me better (I’ve always known best – ask my mother!) – but the wistfulness is because it would actually be lovely to meet someone outside of myself in whom I could place that responsibility.

Recent events, though, have made me stop and think more deeply about the whole idea of expecting someone else to have all the answers. Why do we do it? Why do we put more store in what another might think rather than trusting in our own judgement? Is our willingness to trust consultants and specialists – whether its in business, medical or spiritual arenas – a recognition of their superior knowledge? Or is it a lack of belief in our own instincts and a fear of taking responsibility for our lives, caused by a disconnection with our intuition? How often do we hide behind the judgement of another rather than spending time really listening to what it is we feel ourselves?

It’s not that I don’t believe there are those who can genuinely guide and advise us. It is more than I feel we have developed into a society where life has been segmented into ‘specialisms’ that can be dissected, studied and theorised so that we no longer feel masters (or even students) of ourselves. And this is as true of spirituality as of health, business, childcare, diet, and all the other areas of our lives in which we turn to others to tell us what to think, feel and do. But how do we know when to follow the advice of a guru or expert, and when not to? Or, more pertinently, who do we trust and who don’t we? We can start to gradually build our own self-empowerment by reflecting on assumptions and directions offered by others. ‘Does this comment/advice/behaviour feel right to me?’ ‘How do I really feel about this?’ ‘Do I have a sense of what might be best for me in this situation?’ It’s not a question of judging another wrong or right, it is simply a questionning of how appropriate something feels for us. After all, one woman’s medicine is another’s poison.

This gentle questionning starts a re-connection with the inner world of our own emotions and senses that are so frequently neglected in favour of the external world. Once we are more connected with ourselves, we may be able to find our own answers – or, at least, to know best what advice to follow. And if we are parents, we can extend this to our children, empowering them to follow their own intuitions rather than over-riding their natural instincts with those of a modern, mechanised, society. We do, after all, usually know ourselves better than anyone else. It’s just that we have forgotten to listen.

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