Guru [n. Sanskrit]: one who teaches spiritual liberation from his or her own direct experience.

You may have heard Shakti Durga or any other great teachers described as ‘gurus’ and wonder what that means.

A guru is person who activates our energy field and shakti and connects us with our own higher soul. You can study with Shakti Durga without becoming a disciple. It’s about whatever is right for you. A disciple is a person who wishes to be spiritually empowered for their path of service and spiritual development.

Shakti Durga has recorded a video explaining what she feels it means to be a Guru.

Why do people bow toward a Guru?

This is a common question whenever anyone visits a school that uses the guru tradition. Seeing others bow to a person or other people can feel disempowering and like you are raising the person you are bowing to on a pedestal.  The reality is that it does not really matter to a guru, who is not in their ego, whether you bow or not. In fact, it’s better that you do not bow if it does not make you feel comfortable and you don’t have a yearning to do so. For those who do bow, it’s typically for three reasons. The first two are very practical reasons. When done before or after receiving a blessing or instruction, bowing opens up the crown, heart and other chakras to receive teachings and energy more clearly and easily. Like everything we teach, we encourage you to try it for yourself if you are curious and feel the difference. The second reason is that energy generally comes in to a person through the crown chakra at the top of the head (this is why you often see pictures of saints and others with a halo or the top of their head illuminated) and then the energy goes down through them into the earth. This means a lot of wonderful energy comes out of the feet. Bowing brings you closer to that energy and it’s why you often see the feet of gurus being bathed in photos etc. Finally, when people bow, it’s a sign of respect and gratitude, but they are essentially bowing to themselves. You can only see in others what you have within and so many people bow out of reverence for the divinity they see in the guru or teacher.

What are Blessings?

You may have seen a blessing being given or heard about this. A blessing is essentially a form of energy healing or energetic transfer of divine energy. Every blessing is different, depending on your needs at the time. It’s the job of the person giving the blessing, whether it’s Shakti Durga or anyone else in her school, to get out of the way and let the divine flow through them to assist the person receiving the blessing. Sometimes a blessing is about helping a person to expand their awareness and consciousness, sometimes a blessing is about helping the person let go of old stuck energy and sometimes a blessing comes through as unconditional, motherly love for the person being blessed to help them realise they are loved unconditionally by the divine. There are as many flavours of blessings as there are people in the world; the goal is to spiritually uplift the person being blessed and give them an energetic boost to transform and lift their life. Generally, a person will kneel before the person giving the blessing, which quite practically, simply makes it a lot easier to do the blessing then if the person is standing. The person giving the blessing puts their hand on the person’s head and starts the energetic flow from the divine. This can cause tingling, rushes of joy, crying, laughing or even physical shaking. The best thing to do is remain receptive, open and appreciative and try to clear the mind by just thinking ‘thank you.’ If you are in the room when someone is receiving a blessing, the best thing to do is send them love as this actually helps them and also some of the blessing will flow to you.

Where do I begin?

Often, when we’re new to a spiritual community, we can feel a sense that everyone else is further along on this path than we are; they’re all in the midst of this beautiful Divine relationship and we’re not sure where to start or whether we even want to start!

Don’t worry, that’s perfectly normal. You are not being asked to ‘fall in love’ on the first date; there is no pressure or requirement to feel a particular way. These things have a way of unfolding in their own perfect timing as we maintain an attitude of love and respect and stay tuned into the heart. Spiritual development is not a sprint, it is a marathon that requires dedication and work. In fact, it’s fairly common for most new people to the school to feel an urge to ‘sprint’ right away. A slower and more balanced approach will allow you to maintain your stamina through tricky periods of growth and also be more ease and grace. Others feel torn between an urge to run away fast and stay within the school. This is normal as the ego fears giving up control to the divine. The ego wants us to stay small, to control everything in our life. If you feel like this, take a break and see how you feel, talk with a senior teacher or go for an Ignite Your Spirit healing to ensure this isn’t just natural resistance to growth and development. It’s a bit like going to the gym, or doing yoga. We often feel like giving up when it starts to get hard even though we know we can do more, but if we push through that resistance we feel great afterward.

What’s the best way to learn more about Shakti Durga or bring a friend to learn more?

Satsangs are great places to start or bring friends (where music is a strong component) and public events with Shakti Durga and the other senior teachers. We also run meditations during the week at various locations throughout Australia. Keep in mind that any event with Shakti Durga is bound to be quite intense and very devotional and spiritually charged with energy. It might be better, and more ease and grace, to start with one of her other senior teachers.

What draws people to the school, in the first place, is quite unique and personal. People generally want to come along because they’re interested in trying guided meditation, attending a seminar, experiencing sacred music or to have a healing. In most cases, people start searching for a spiritual community during a major life change such as a move, divorce, illness (including depression), problems at work or they have an unending desire to discover ‘more’ out of life.

What we’ve found is most people who come to a class or retreat with Shakti Durga, whether they know it or not, are not beginners on the path. Most are looking to discover their own unique purpose or mission and find more peace in their life.  We are a school for people who want to realise their full Divine potential, connect to a spiritual community, be part of something bigger than themselves and serve the world to the best of their ability with their own unique gifts.  We do that with great love, respect, honour and interest in other spiritual paths and traditions.

Do I need a guru, and how do I know if I’ve found one who’s right for me?

The simplest answer: your heart will tell you.

We teach that we are all Divine; we are all one with God. Being a guru or more spiritually developed doesn’t make you any more divine, or ‘better’ than anyone else – it’s about how fully that Divinity is being expressed and realised.

Once a soul’s candle is ‘lit’ and they are awakened to become a big bright flame, it’s easy for them to light another. In fact, their souls infuse a deep yearning into all parts of the being to help others to light the spark within … and therefore raise the consciousness and vibration on earth. Being a guru can be hard work and requires a life of loving dedication to students or a mission, but that’s what a guru does, and that’s what the guru tradition is all about. Guru literally translates to ‘that which removes darkness.’ We refer to it as ‘Igniting Your Spirit’ … whatever you call it, the goal is to help you become an empowered student of life. If you are blessed to find guru, it can profoundly help to speed your development, enrich your life and will often be a lot of fun. Gurus can look inside your soul and help you with spiritual development at a very deep level. Spiritual development is like raindrops making their way back to the ocean, it helps to find a good river with a strong current!

For most of us growing up in Western countries, it’s never occurred to us to seek a guru. We read books, go along to talks, yoga or perhaps church or learn to meditate. We more or less assume we will need to figure it out for ourselves but many of us still feel an emptiness within, a yearning for more and to be awakened more fully. Others believe that because the Divine is within all of us, it would be giving our power away to seek a teacher.

You are, of course, not required to have a guru to develop spiritually. In fact, most of our courses and seminars are created for students of all faiths, backgrounds, beliefs and practices and people have many different gurus at the Harmony Centres. Our sole aim is to provide you with useful and practical skills and tools that can help you find and create more peace in your life. Whether you study with us for a day, a month, a year or a lifetime, we are happy to help you find and create more peace in your life.

Many of the skills and techniques taught in the seminars developed by Shakti Durga and others in Shanti Mission, can be applied and used in any religious or spiritual practice to help you go deeper and also, if you are interested, help you to find your own guru or teacher. We are not attached to who your guru is, whether it is Shakti Durga, any of the other advanced teachers in our school or a guru from a different path. Ultimately, you will need to trust your heart. It will tell you when you’ve found your guru or if you need to even look for one. It may hit you like a lightning bolt or develop gradually from a gentle respect for the teacher into a deeper sense of love – but at some point, you’ll know. The saying that ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear’ has great truth.

If you want to meet your guru, ask the Divine and be open to the response. There are things we can try to describe with words, but can only truly be understood through direct experience. If you’re curious, we encourage you to spend some time at an event with Shakti Durga, which are generally very devotional in focus. You may also want to explore other schools that use the guru tradition. We believe this tradition crosses the faiths and religions but may be called different things and come in different flavours. There are gurus in Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism and the many other faiths. As a multi-faith spiritual community, we teach that all guru are one, and we honour the Gurus and Masters of all traditions.

What about being vulnerable?

All great relationships create the context for us to be open and therefore vulnerable. That’s how we grow, develop and connect more deeply to one another, and is part of why we incarnate in the first place. However, a true Guru-Disciple relationship is based on mutual love and respect, rather than manipulation and control. We also teach that all gurus, including Shakti Durga or any of the senior teachers in Shanti Mission, must also be a disciple to something greater than themselves. We also have a strict code of conduct in our school for our teachers and leaders who are also subject to regular review and feedback. Shakti Durga, herself, is held accountable and receives ‘peer review’ from other gurus in our school and also other gurus she interacts with regularly. She regularly consults with her group of 13 senior disciples on major decisions or problems and asks them to lovingly challenge her thinking and approach. She also wants anyone in her organisation who has concerns to bring them to her attention or to another of the senior leaders.

The bottom line though, with any spiritual organisation, is to trust your heart and intuition. You can feel the difference right away if someone’s in their ego, rather than coming from a place of expanded awareness and unconditional love. Look at those around the guru because they are great indications of the guru’s teachings put into regular practice. If they are bright and shiny then it’s quite likely that you will also achieve this if you study with that guru long enough. You also should ‘road test’ the teachings and see if they make sense and actually work in your own life. Like any great coach, a true guru wants each student to fulfill his or her own unique potential. The guru’s job is to pull the disciple (spiritual student) up, and as the disciple advances, she helps push the guru to expand his or her own consciousness even further. For more on this visit Shakti Durga’s Disciple page and watch a video on the subject.

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