There is this beautiful story that Swamiji tells in the Book of Surrender about Krishna and Arjuna. I think it perfectly describes Arjuna’s relationship with Krishna.
“After the Gita, Krishna and Arjuna are going somewhere. Maybe for a picnic, an outing. Suddenly Krishna says, ‘Arjuna, see that, white coloured crows’. Arjuna says, ‘yes, yes, beautiful, white coloured crows’. After two minutes Krishna says, ‘no, no, no, they are black crows only!’ Arjuna says, ‘yes, yes, Krishna, they are black crows only’.
Suddenly Krishna asks, ‘fool what happened to you? When I happened to you, what happened to your senses?’
Arjuna says, ‘Krishna I do not know what happened to my senses, but one thing is sure, when you said it was white, I saw them as white. When you said they are black, I saw them as black. I do not know what happened to my senses. I do not know what happened to me! One thing I know for sure, the crow is not going to give me life. You are going to give me life. I do not know logically if the crow is white or black. But I saw as you directed. When you said it was white, I saw it as white. When you said it was black, I saw it as black’.
Then Krishna says, ‘you are right! Because you started trusting me more than your senses.’ If Arjuna was trusting his senses, at the most he would have been a good warrior. Good King! But because he trusted Krishna more than he trusted his senses, he has become enlightened. Such was the state of Arjuna’s surrender to his Master. Whatever He said was what Arjuna’s eyes saw. This is the final state of surrender.”
To me, this is the ideal relationship with Guru. This state of surrender is what we should all try to achieve as a disciple. When I say surrender, I don’t mean giving up. I mean connecting with Guru, falling in tune with him, and allowing his energy to pour over you. There is no greater blessing than to experience this space.
Kumbh Mela, in the most auspicious time, in the most auspicious place, I got to really experience this space.
There is one particular day that sticks out in my mind. Swamiji had called me and two others over to sit by him in the mandala. I was so ecstatic, I all but ran to him and eagerly took a seat by his side. Even with his jattas perfectly wrapped atop his head, he moved so gracefully, sharing stories and laughs with those who sat near him. His smile just seemed to be radiating from his very core. I can’t really articulate the experience. I just remember sitting at his feet and gazing up at him, feeling as if I had the whole world at my fingertips but wanting nothing more than to live in that exact moment.
Swamiji looked down at the three of us and smiled. He said, “Whose love is for me, my love is for them. Whose wealth is for me, my wealth is for them. Whose life is for me, my life is for them.”
I just melted. And I tell you, there is no sweeter experience than losing yourself in Guru.
Now, let’s rewind a little. I haven’t always had this relationship with Swamiji. It’s been a bit of a tumultuous ride here.
Living in a culture that has lost its reverence for Gurus, I never had any particular desire to connect with Swamiji. I had so much resistance to him initially. The meditation, the levitation, it was all too much for me. I just wanted to live a “normal life,” whatever that means. I did not want to be known as THAT girl.
Eventually, my family’s persistence wore me down. I agreed to go to an IA. Even after that, I could only connect to Swamiji on an intellectual level. I would only allow myself that.
I would take all the techniques that Swamiji taught at IA and try to apply them to my life, completely ignoring the context. And when they didn’t work, I used it as evidence to build my case for why I didn’t need a Guru.
I gave it the old college try but hey, it just wasn’t meant to be.
After all, if I wasn’t getting exactly what I wanted, what was the point? Even if I began to connect with Swamiji, my self-doubt would pull me back. My years of being a slave to societal norms would drag me back down. I needed proof, some kind of spiritual experience or miracle or something before I could believe in him. This was the height of my hubris.
If you have this cognition, drop it immediately. Do not bargain for your relationship with Guru. It is too costly to lose. You will tell yourself, “I have been with Swamiji for 3 years, and I have not gotten that job still and my health is still poor. Why should I continue further with this?” Do not allow yourself to suffer any further with this cognition like I did. If Guru has found you in this life, do not let your ego get in the way. You do not know how many janmas it took to get here, do not miss him in this life.
Despite all this, I continued to come back to him. That was the only thing I did. I continued to come back to him and I did not abuse him. And his compassion was greater than my arrogance.
Swamiji explains in the Book of Surrender that the Cosmos will give you such a strong suffering that you will realize there is no solution in the outer world – you will have to look within and it will send you back to Guru. I got exactly that.
It took me three years but Swamiji pulled me back.
This past year has been quite the journey for me. I’ve had the great fortune of spending almost 3 months with Swamiji throughout the year, and I cannot begin to tell you how much my cognition has shifted. I feel like I am constantly expanding and finding new dimensions of myself.
But the greatest blessing is bhakti, devotion for Guru.
As Ramakrishna says, “Know this for sure: When the mere thought of your istadevata (favorite deity) or your Master reduces you to tears, you are in your final janma, your final birth.”
I talked about the Book of Surrender a lot in this post. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re missing out. Go read it. I included the PDF for it and the Book of Feeling Connection below.
And as always, if you are just so enamored by my writing and want to tell me, please leave a comment below.