Last night was Guru Purnima – the full moon day that honours the presence of our teachers in our lives. We all have them, whether it’s your high school Science teacher that showed you how to look at life from a different perspective, or your kids, that teach you tolerance – the hard way!
One of the most enriching practices is to acknowledge the fact that we have all come into this world and grown into who we are by the grace of our teachers. Just like baby mice, born with their eyes fused shut, we are blind until the torchlight of knowledge from the guru illuminates the dark path ahead.
As a part of the ‘Sita and the Hanumen’ tour, we did kirtan last night at Yogamaya in Manhattan. It was especially meaningful for me to chant in NYC, as it was the place that my grandfather guru, Srila Prabhupada chose to come to from India. Alone, with very little money and few contacts, he sat under a tree in Tompkins Square Park and chanted every day. From that first practice, an entire international movement of bhakti-yogis exploded. I owe my life, my everything to this worldwide family, and to that person who completely inundated the world with his mercy.
Last night Benjy Wertheimer also acknowledged his music guru – Ali Akbar Khan, who has been an overwhelming force in music education for over forty years, and who passed away not long ago. John de Kadt spoke about Neem Karoli Baba, who has guided him in significant ways, as for so many countless others in the world.
If we seek truth humbly, the grace of the guru is ever available to us. It is also absolutely vital to access that mercy in our every endeavour. It’s common knowledge that the most successful, loved and happy people are in deep connection with their mentors and those that guide them. Sometimes it’s said that we are like a flower – to grow we need both the fertile, rich soil of the guru’s instruction and inspiration as well as the sunshine and rain from the Divine source – who has many names.