A Guide to Gurus

Entering the world of meditation can be confusing for the most part. In the West it’s not a traditional practice, and although more and more people are taking it up, there is a distinct lack of guidance on the matter. It’s partly why I write this blog. I’m not an expert myself but my experience with meditation could be of help to others who are unsure of their direction.

Thankfully, with how the Internet has developed, we have access to innumerable websites, videos and e-books that can help with our spiritual introspection. This has been vital in furthering my own understanding as I’ll explain. I’ve been able to find answers from various spiritual teachers (sometimes known as gurus) through differing methods. Here’s my guide to gurus for anyone who is searching for answers themselves.

Eckhart Tolle

How I found him: I was watching a Russell Brand video and he suggested The Power of Now. Something about it must have resonated with me and I bought the book.

My experience: Mr Tolle was the first spiritual teacher I came across, though, at the time, I didn’t realise there was so much more to discover. The teachings in his book, The Power of Now, had a profound effect on my life and my outlook.

Work: Tolle has several books, of which I’ve read a couple: The Power of Now A New Earth. There are also numerous videos on YouTube of talks and meet-ups that Eckhart has attended and answered questions at.

Good for: 

  • Igniting the spiritual flame within you.
  • Helping you address your unconscious behaviour: bringing negative mind-patterns to your attention so that you can begin to rid yourself of them.
  • Beginning to repair the relationships you have with others, with the world and, more importantly, yourself.
  • Understanding your true essential nature.

Video: “Getting Rid of Fear”

Alan Watts

How I found him: A friend showed me a video on YouTube of a talk he gave, although I didn’t watch listen to more for a while.

My experience: I’ve listened to so many of his talks, most of which have been helpfully converted into YouTube videos. The first thing that struck me about Alan Watts was the wisdom he espoused. His knowledge of the spiritual was awesome and he was incredible at explaining it. Through his own exploration into various religious doctrines, namely Christian Mysticism, Zen Buddhism, aspects of Hinduism and many more, he was able to transfer that through his talks and books to those who were really interested in discovering more about the world and the truth. Listening to him talk brought about an inner stillness within me as I attempted to process the wisdom contained within it. My understanding has developed and deepened ever more so from these talks. It was Watts who introduced me to the idea of enlightenment.

Work: Watts wrote many books but my experience has been through YouTube videos.

Good for: 

  • Developing your spiritual knowledge.
  • Understanding the mechanisms of life and delving deep into your own introspection.
  • Learning about spiritual doctrines, the origins of religious beliefs and exploring intellectual arguments on the source of life and other existential questions.
  • Understanding meditation itself, theories and how you can put this into practice in your own life as well as pointers towards higher truth, or “enlightenment”.

Video: “Why We Don’t Notice Space & Vibration are the Building Blocks of the Universe”

Mooji

How I found him: After watching/listening to Alan Watts and Eckhart Tolle on YouTube, Mooji’s videos came up as “Suggested”. They appeared to come into my life at exactly the right stage in my development.

My experience: Again, YouTube videos have been key. Similarly to Watts’ talks, when listening to Mooji, I feel an inner stillness, an inner peace. The reason for this is something within me recognising the truth and power of the words. Anything that makes you stop thinking for a second is powerful as it breaks the dominance, however briefly, of your mind. I have developed my spiritual understanding which has massively helped my progress. To even begin to understand any of this is so important. Mooji takes his teacher-hood, so to speak, from his own experience with enlightenment following his education under Papaji, another spiritual guru.

Work: He has written books but his main body of work is Q&A style meet-ups. Many of these are now in Portugal but there have been some in Brixton. Almost all of Mooji’s talks can be found on YouTube.

Good for:

  • Furthering your spiritual work.
  • Going deeper into your introspection.
  • Answering any questions that should arise within you from your exploration.
  • Breaking down you ideas of who you are and deconstructing the ego.

Video Link: “Go Into Solitary Confinement with Your Self”

 

Rupert Spira

How I found him: Through YouTube again. There was a video of teachers explaining how their enlightenment came about. After the grandeur of Mooji, which I felt slightly uneasy with, it was refreshing to hear from such a normal guy talking about these issues. Spira really is unassuming but his words are incredibly powerful.

My experience: Over a few months, I watched/listened to his YouTube videos almost every day. I found myself understanding more and more throughout this time. His simple, yet expressive language is his strength, as well as his analogies, especially for the modern audience; his work, I feel, is much more accessible on a personal level than, perhaps, Mooji’s. Furthermore, Spira frequently holds talks in London, one of which I am planning to attend very soon. I feel this will be vital in advancing my education. Spira’s questions and assertions cut right to the very heart of your identity, really testing you, almost like a spiritual work out, with unvarying success.

Work: Spira has written books, all with covers as simple and unassuming as he and his teachings are. But, as the theme suggests, there are lots of YouTube videos.

Good for: 

  • Moving into an intermediate stage of your self-discovery and introspection.
  • Cutting through the residual mental baggage and undiscovered issues within you.
  • Directing your attention towards awareness (being aware of being aware) and essentially tying your mind up with questions it cannot answer, bringing about pure stillness. To answer these questions requires something you must discover yourself.

Video: “What Am I Essentially?”

 

Go your own way

Like with everything, gurus come down to personal preference and this may change at different stages of your development. Be wary of attaching yourself to the people themselves as this is ego behaviour. Pay attention to the words themselves and, in particular, how this moves you and how you feel inside. There is an intuition which will tell you what can be trusted. Moreover, listen not with your mind, but with your inner essence, with your stillness, your peace (if this makes sense to you, you are already halfway there).

A warning

Be also wary of false “prophets”. There are many Instagram accounts, many YouTube channels and many books written by people who seem to offer wisdom and insightful knowledge. This can be seen through particular Instagram accounts that refer to themselves as “awake” because they have seen through the lies of certain organisations. It should be noted that this can be part of an awakening–it is normally the first stage as one recognises the falsehoods around them; it is almost like the world is mirroring the falsehood of the ego and mind-made problems. It is the deep intuition within them that recognises something isn’t quite right but it is the ego that makes it into a personal problem instead of allowing life to flow through them.

My advice

Explore these issues as much as you can. Go back to videos and books and talks over and over until this becomes clear. Express your own truth and find people to discuss it with. Go as deep into your introspection as you are comfortable with–although this will come naturally to you.

There will be times where you’re not sure where you are with your education and answers do not appear to be forthcoming. Be patient and have faith that the right lessons will come to you at the right time. Try to remember that there is no end goal–the journey itself is where the enjoyment lies.

Lessons can come in all forms

Spiritual teaching can come from anywhere, often in unlikely guises. There will be times where you’ll learn something new from a guru that really makes you stop and think. But often, what is more powerful, is when you hear something from an unexpected source that completely stops you in your tracks. One such example for me is from a song lyric, which perfectly sums up the essence of all of these teachings:

“Don’t think about all those things you feel; just be glad to be here.”

Hayling, by FC Kahuna & Hafdis Huld

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