A young boy had been observing for quite some time a medicine man who claimed to cure snakebites. He was greatly influenced by the medicine man’s fame and wealth. So the boy went to him and requested that he be told about the secret of snakebite cure. The Guru (medicine man) told him to become his disciple and observe how he cures the patients. Many years passed and the young boy grew to be a man. Yet he felt that the guru never taught him the real secret of curing snakebites and most of his time was therefore spent in doing menial chores and seva of the guru. Finally when the guru was about to die he called his disciple and said, “Since my time is up I will now tell you the secret of snakebite cure. Remember that 90% of snakes are non-poisonous and the patients bitten by 10% of poisonous snakes came too late”. The disciple was aghast and devastated and told his guru that this simple information could have been told to him years ago in the beginning. The guru replied “But who would have taken care of me for so many years and now you should find a similar disciple for yourself !”.
Most so called self-professed gurus are teachers not in the real sense but are mostly interested in self aggrandizement and acquiring wealth. There a are large number of such people in our midst.
A real guru is the one who will remove the fear from the mind of the disciple. Fear is the greatest obstacle to happiness and one of the major attributes of deep faith is removal of fear, which a real guru can provide. Most of the charlatans or so-called gurus in fact create more fear and insecurities since they derive benefit from feeding on these insecurities. A faith in a person, which creates fear and brings harm to oneself is not a proper faith and should be changed.
A real guru takes upon himself/herself the pain, hurdles of a disciple, and tries to show and lead him/her on to the correct path. This is very different from so called gurus who just point in the general direction which is akin to directions given by passerby. A truly great guru is a rare commodity and extremely difficult to find and one is very lucky to come across such enlightened souls. If one does not come across a genuine guru then the next best thing to do is to think about all the great attributes of such a guru and assume that he/she resides in our heart and is helping us to reach our destination. This will provide a great faith in oneself for carrying forward one’s task. Besides building the faith, the advantage of such imaginary guru is that there is no other commitment and strings attached. The famous example of Eklavya from Mahabharata comes to mind. He put the statue of Dronacharya in his compound and practiced his archery thinking that Dronacharya himself is teaching him and in the process became an extremely accomplished archer. Imaginary guru provides a great anchor to one’s life and produces similar results as those from deep faith. Adopting such a guru also allows us to package mentally most of our worries and problems to be handed over to him/her. Mind has a powerful imagination mechanism and this process has been known to produce great faith and achievements in people.