The Real Guru || Acharya Prashant (2015)

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Question: Sir, a very famous preacher I know of, is a renowned spiritual guru, rather ‘sadhguru’ of contemporary times. I am quite influenced by him.

Does it help one more, to have two gurus instead of one?

Acharya Prashant: So, one guru has already been decided upon – it is some ‘sadhguru’. The second one we do not know . . . he (the questioner) might yet be contemplating, might yet be in the process of finalizing, choosing. However, his core question is, “Can I have one guru there and another one here?”

We hardly ever want to look at the fundamentals. We are in such an arrogant hurry to proceed, that we forget the very foundation upon which all the processes stand. Before you ask, “Is it worth it to have two gurus or five gurus?” . . . or whatever, it does not occur to you to ask, “What is a guru?” Quickly you jump to the question of “How many gurus?” without ever trying to understand firstly what is this whole thing about a guru? What is a guru? And if we can understand what is a guru, then the answer about the number of gurus and all, will easily open up.


There is Truth; there is only the Truth. All that there is, is called by the name of Truth. And then there is that which is only an appearance – dependent appearance, which shows up as shallow upon inquiry. It changes with the passage of time, and appears different to different subjects.

The mind lives only in all that which appears; hence it suffers. The mind is configured to know only appearances.

Do you know anything which does not appear? All that you know always has an appearance; all that you know always has a boundary – it has a start point and an end point. That is the stuff of the mind. That is what the mind knows. And that, which is just an appearance, starts and ends, has no real sustainability; and is deceptive, in the sense that it changes as the observer changes; and does not satisfy, in the sense that it is always limited. Hence the mind that lives in appearances, craves for something beyond the apparent. This something beyond the apparent, this something that does not change, that does not rise and fall, that will never let you down, and that will not pass away, this ‘something’ is called the Truth.

Truth does not appear in the same way as the different appearances that come to the mind appear. Because whatever comes to the mind has a name, form, shape, beginning, end, dimensions, color and all other material properties, Truth cannot have these. It is too subtle to have limited properties. Now, the mind craves for Truth and the Truth is something that is imperceptible to the mind as an appearance. So, this becomes a situation of impossibility and suffering. You are the mind, you live in appearances, but appearances do not really give you contentment. So you are looking for something that transcends appearances, but that which you are looking for, you are simply incapable of perceiving because you can perceive only appearances.

So what does that mean? Does that mean that we are destined to live in sorrow and suffering? No, it does not mean that. Yes, your eyes can look only at objects, and objects mean, things, places, people, books, and all kinds of objects that can be seen and heard and touched.

And all objects are limited; all objects are mere appearances. But occasionally you come across an object whose appearance reminds you of something beyond appearances. Occasionally you come across something or somebody whose appearance, whose presence, takes you beyond the material.

And material is thought. So there is a particular presence in which you feel so assured that you do not need thoughts.

This presence is called the guru!

The one Truth is called the guru!

Understand: the guru is not a person, the guru is not quantifiable. You cannot count gurus. It is supreme ignorance to talk of one, three or five gurus. There is the ‘one guru’ which is the Truth; and there is only the Truth. Hence, there is only the guru.

That one Truth can show forth through several books and several people. The Sikhs call their holy book as their guru: Guru Granth Sahib. Why? Because the book reminds them of the Truth which is the real guru.

The utility of a book or a person is just that it reminds you of the real guru – that is the function of the physical guru as well.

Remember: the man himself cannot really be the guru; the man can only be a reminder of the real guru. The real guru rests within you. Outside there can only be helpers, indicators who take you within yourself, who take you to the real internal Truth that resides in your heart – that is the function of the external helper. And that is also the test through which you can determine whether an external book or situation or man is really helping you or not. This is the only test through which you can determine whether the people that you are looking at, the people that you are feeling inspired by, are really taking you to the internal guru.

The internal guru is Truth and silence. Truth is not thoughts; Truth is not ideas. The fellow you are listening to, does he take you to a silence where you can see the falseness of all appearances or does he create an illusion in which these appearances become more significant to you? Does he show up the falseness of the world or does he advice you to become more comfortably and deeply settled in the world?

The real guru will take you to your ‘Self,’ the false one will take you towards the society; the real guru will not give you consolations, the false guru will have a thousand consolations to give to you. If you have people who are talking of how to run corporate systems better and which politician can be a better prime minister, this itself is a good enough proof that this man is too deeply engrossed in the world. He has a lot of stakes in the world. Such a fellow, who has a lot of stakes in the world cannot take you beyond the world. And that is the only real function of the guru: to take you beyond the world, beyond the material.

He (referring commonly to the various speakers masquerading as gurus) will tell you, how to do your ‘9 to 5’ job in a more relaxed way, but he will never tell you to have the guts to quit your job. And you will feel happy because that is what you want: a pain-killer. And you go and ask, “I am facing so much of stress. What do I do?” He will give you some kind of stress reliever. He will say, “Next time you feel stressed out, perform this kriya (method): breathe in and breathe out, or recite this mantra.” But he will not tell you to have faith in Truth, and hence the guts to simply quit, which you know to be false.


I am repeating: the real helper will take you to the guru within. He will not take you to the sansaar (world), to society. The false guru will stand and support the society. In fact, he is very much an agent of the society. Because whatever he says or does, actually comes from the society and not from the Truth. The presence of the false guru is the presence of the society. He will support all the social institutions. He will do all the things that the society likes and approves of.

That is why the real guru can never be very likable. And a good proof of the false guru is that he will most probably have millions of followers. Is there anything that millions and billions of people can do rightly? Look at the history of mankind. Do you really think that the Truth is so cheap? Look at the world around you. Do you really think that the millions know of anything? And if these millions are flocking to somewhere to somebody, they surely could not be flocking to the Truth.

Millions flock to the markets, millions flock to the malls, millions flock to next blockbuster movie. Do millions flock to the Truth? If millions are flocking to somebody, that somebody is surely giving them something like a blockbuster movie. If millions flock to somebody, that somebody is surely giving them something like a shopping mall: excitement, greed, a promise of fulfillment of desires.

The real guru takes away your illusions and ambitions. You will not like him. His very presence is a threat to all your falsenesses. You cannot flock to him and sing his praises. You will avoid him – that is the test. You will avoid him and you will know that you cannot do without him.

Yesterday, you were singing, “Milon na tum toh hum ghabrayein, milon toh aankh churayein. Humein kya ho gaya hain.” (If you do not meet me, I get afraid. But when you meet, I run away. What has gone wrong with me!)

This is that! You will stay away but in staying away you are only showing that you remember to stay away. So, you remember. Occasionally you will be compelled to come close. In being compelled to come close, you are only showing the intensity of your own inner compulsion.

It is very, very easy to determine whether a book is helpful or not, whether a man is helpful or not, whether anything is really helpful or not – very easy. You go to a book store; you have to pick up a title. How do you determine whether it is really helpful? You are talking to somebody, how do you determine whether the presence of this person is good for you or not? How? It is very simple.

Does that man or book reinforce your patterns or does he break them? Does he give you new thoughts and new ideas or does he brings you to silence? Does he tell you how you can continue with your pattern-based life, with your conditioned life, a little less painfully, or does he tell you to have faith and simply jump into the unknown? Does he tell you that by doing a few physical exercises you get some transformation or does he tell you that till the time you are you, all exercises will be co-opted by you?

In most of these cases . . . remember . . . the chances are, that which is prima facie likable will just be like all the other things that are prima facie likable.

Have you seen what is it that you get attracted to in the first glance itself? Have you seen? Have you seen how the smell of delicious food enters your nostrils and you are attracted, and you do not even have to think. Have you seen that? Have you seen how anything glitzy appears so attractive to the eyes and you do not even have to think? Immediately your head turns towards it. Have you seen how you would walk past an attractive girl and your head will be tilted towards her, without even the need of thought.

You very well know what your tendencies are. And those are the tendencies of mankind. Those are the tendencies of the conditioned mind. Anything that appears immediately attractive will just be like the aroma of that pizza, the sight of that alluring woman, the glitz of that new bike . . . will just be like that.

Truth is not a matter of appearances. Truth simply cannot be immediately attractive to the conditioned mind. One has to go deep, deep, deep – very deep.

Now you are asking, “Can one have two Gurus?” No!

Just as there cannot be two Truths, and there cannot be two hearts, and there cannot be two Gods, similarly, there cannot be two gurus. But if you know the ‘one guru,’ the entire existence becomes the guru. So, you will have infinite number of gurus. This is strange. If you have one guru, then you have thousands of gurus, but if you have two gurus, then you have no guru. Because when you are saying, “Can I have two Gurus?,” then you are talking numbers.

If you are saying, “Out of these two, one is the real guru and the other one is the false one,” it is not possible. Why? Because if one of these is the real guru, he will ensure that the false one is dropped. So, two is not possible. Two is possible only in one case that both of these two are false. Now these two will happily co-exist. In fact, one will support the other. He will say, “You can do twelve hours with me and twelve hours with my neighbor . . . go to the next ashram. Right now it is my sleeping time, so go to Swami Bhoganand now”.

Two is possible only if both of them are false. Otherwise day and night cannot co-exist. Otherwise you cannot be awake and asleep at the same time. Two is not possible. And if both of them are false then you may as well collect two hundred, which people often do.

There are professional guru hoppers, who keep on going from one website to the other. They search on Google, “Looking for a suitable guru; should not be too inconvenient, should adhere to my timings, should not challenge my beliefs and should say nothing about my girlfriend. I do not want any interference in my personal matters. You just give me some kind of limited professional advice, I will pay you, of course. Do not exceed your mandate.”

You can have two hundred, you can have two thousand, and all these will be false, because your heart is yet not active. Does this sound confusing to you?

You are choosing from the wrong centre. You are choosing from your calculative mind. So, you can pick up two hundred situations, two hundred books, two hundred friends, and all of them will have one quality in common: all of them will be false. But if your heart is in the right place, then the entire existence will become a friend. If your heart is with the real guru, which is the Truth itself, then all your choices will be pure and helpful choices, then every friend will be a right friend. All your false friends will get dropped.

If your heart is with the right guru, then you will be able to learn even from leaves and twigs and insects and animals. You will find that an ordinary dog is a teacher. You will find that everyday situation of life is now teaching you. But to come to a point where you can see divinity in everything, where even walls become sacred scriptures, where even the breeze is singing the Upanishads, where you look at the sky and it appears as if the Gita is written in the form of stars, to come to that point you first need to have your heart at the right place.


With the right guru, existence itself becomes the teacher. So not two, but you have two million teachers. You are learning from everything, every single observation is teaching you. You look at life and you are taught, again, and again. But remember these same eyes that can teach you so much, can also deceive you so much if your heart is not in the right place. With the right guru, everything becomes helpful; life becomes joy. The same things that were a source of suffering and complaints, now appear tremendously beautiful. The same events that used to shake you up, are now your play things.

That is, if you have been directed towards the Truth, with your heart seated in the Truth, the existence is your teacher.

And that Truth alone is the one guru, I am repeating. But when your heart is not sitting in the Truth, then you will have a thousand external gurus and all of them will only deepen your misery, because you will be choosing only the wrong ones. You will be choosing through your conditioned mind; and not one but all your choices will further your wretched state.

Not one, but all choices!

You will choose the wrong job, the wrong friends, the wrong house, the wrong companion, wrong wife. Every single choice that you will make will push you deeper into sorrow.

Are you getting it?

So, to the fundamentals again: there is only one guru and that guru is not a person, that is the Truth itself. The Truth alone is the guru. When the heart is in the Truth . . . and how does heart get seated in the Truth? Because the Truth is very helpful, because the Truth itself wants you to come to it, because your mind does not really feel contended with anything except that one Truth. So there is a constant call of the Truth.

When the heart is seated in the Truth, then even physical persons appear on the outside to teach you. That physical person or book is just a helper, a guide or you could say an expression of the inner Truth. Your own inner Truth has taken the form of a person and is sitting in front of you. What is sitting in front of you, remember is not really a person, but your own Truth that is calling you.

Sometimes it calls from within, and sometimes it pushes you within from outside. When it calls from within, obviously it cannot have an appearance. When it pushes you within from outside, yes, it does have an appearance. But when it pushes you within from outside, remember, you do not really feel good. You feel like revolting, and a thousand doubts come to you. The only way you can stay with this external person in spite of all your doubts, is, if your mind is firstly somewhat near the right place. Otherwise you will go away.

So you see how cyclical it is? You see how you cannot enforce it? The inner Truth alone can produce the outer guru. Otherwise you will not stay with the outer guru, right? And the outer guru is the one who pushes you within.

So, what comes first, the inner or the outer?

Well, nothing!

They both are together. They both are together!

Are you getting it?

Watch the session at: Prashant Tripathi: The Real Guru The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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