I’m practicing with a Zen teacher but I follow the bhakti (devotion) path myself with a mantra from Amma. My teacher (in his own words) is not completely "done" on his own Journey but I have seen God in him and love Him a lot. After reading from Yogananda I now feel a bit unsure because he says it’s important to follow a guru. Should I then move on from my teacher?
Yogananda counsels us that as we grow spiritually and are purified, we are sent by God what we need for each step on our journey to Self-realization. For most people, our “teachers” may begin with our parents, family, school, books, classes with dedicated ministers, priests, yogis and other teachers. Bit by bit, and perhaps over lifetimes, the intensity and purity of our yearning for soul freedom grows and God sends to us a true (or “sat”) guru: an avatar (one who is free from all karma and returns to human form for the salvation of souls, whether many or a few).
Saints are those who are striving with recognizable progress toward God but who are not free. We should not reject their example, teachings and inspiration. “When the disciple is ready, the guru appears.”
The sat guru is not dependent upon physical form. Great devotees have existed East and West receiving inner guidance and inspiration from the true guru even though in his physical form he lived centuries ago. The touch of the sat guru also comes through his true disciples though at some future lifetime contact with the sat guru will be received.
So if you were drawn to such a one as Yogananda, he lives as truly as ever he lived in a physical form; so too the great saviors such as Jesus Christ, Buddha, Krishna, and many others. Through their living and attuned disciples, one is also taught and blessed. One should never eschew the blessing of living disciples with the excuse that one seeks only the blessings of the master for the guru lives in those who “receive Him.” (“To as many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God.” John, Chapter 1.)
When I was young I went in search of secret India for my guru but found him not. It wasn’t until my return to America at age 26 did I discover Autobiography of a Yogi. My search throughout the length and breadth of India was the necessary step for me to reach the intuitive openness to receive what God sends to me for my journey.
If, therefore, you are finding inspiration and guidance from your teacher, but no other has come into your life, accept what God and your karma have given to you. You are obviously grateful and being inspired by your Zen teacher. So be patient and let your heart guide you even while open to your next step. However, be sure to also be open to share with others and serve the awakening of other souls as your karma and dharma guide you. This can take an infinite variety of forms and isn’t necessarily the form of teaching others but always it is the conscious willingness to share the light and blessings you have received. Perhaps there is some way you can help your teacher in his work of serving. Be not concerned, for as Yogananda put it, “God watches the heart!”
Step by step we walk our path!
Seattle WA USA