The role of the Guru is to be the "boat" that crosses the treacherous waters, connecting our limited self to our infinite self. 

The term "Guru" has several meanings and can be experienced in different forms or even formless. Guru  means something that takes you from darkness to light. Guru is commonly thought to refer to a teacher, such as a teacher of classical Indian music. However, when referring to such a teacher, it is understood that the Guru's role is to train the student in all aspects of being. In its complete definition, Guru is an infinite resource of teaching, healing, and guidance.

The spiritual path can be challenging to navigate alone. In this perspective, the Guru's function is to be the "boat" that navigates the dangerous waters, linking our limited self with our infinite self. The Guru is also the "doorway" that opens our awareness to a more expansive perspective of the route ahead, as well as the "beacon of light" that guides our ship to safe port. By the Guru's Grace, the door opens; our ears open, we hear the call, and we respond.

Formless Guru

Sometimes, you may first experience the spiritual teacher, known as the Guru, through a sudden or temporary insight or guidance. This can be considered the formless Guru, called the Nirgun Guru. It can also be described as the "hand of the Guru." You feel like there is a divine intervention happening. The experience can be as ordinary as someone making a revealing comment in a casual conversation that changes your understanding of an important part of your life. Or, it can be a sudden change in the direction of events where you are saved from an unpleasant outcome that seemed unavoidable.

Embodied Guru

The Sargun Guru is a fully-manifest form where the divine connection is continuously present in someone or something. Many people may not fully understand the depth and authenticity of such a Guru. In this form, the Guru delivers God's Truth clearly and profoundly, and is the source of continually inspiring and regenerating hope – hope in ourselves and hope in the world. The Sargun Guru inspires and guides all to their highest destiny. Over the last couple of thousand years in India, the relationship between Guru and Chela (student) has been highly developed. To find a Guru in that system, there was great importance placed on vetting the Guru's pedigree, ensuring that the Guru's teacher, and their teacher's teacher, were of recognized value and importance. There were many opportunities to choose a Guru poorly, inadvertently selecting one stuck in their own struggle with materialism, thereby limiting the student's progress .

Shabad Guru

Guru Nanak was asked who his Guru was. He said it was the Word, the Shabad Guru. Shabad Guru means the Word that takes us from darkness to light. The words and sounds of Shabad Guru are elements that change consciousness. They unlock the bounds that the ego holds over the higher self. They free the true self to soar in the heavens. When you vibrate the Shabad Guru, you overwhelm your mind's inner dialogue.This creates Shunia, which is deep inner stillness. Shabad Guru uses the power of Naad. Naad is an entrancing rhythmic pattern of universal sounds. It also uses the movement of your tongue over pressure-points in your upper palate. This causes actual change in your blood chemistry. Siri Singh Sahib said, "As you vibrate, the Universe vibrates with you." The actual reciting of Gurbani brings the formless into form. Gurbani is the words of the Guru. Reciting Gurbani gives the Shabad Guru a form.

Guru Nanak through Guru Gobind Singh

Many people have developed strong relationships with one or more of the Ten Sikh Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh. These relationships were formed through deep reverence for the heroic stories of the Gurus' lives or their writings preserved in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth.Although all ten Gurus are regarded manifestations of Guru Nanak, each represents a particular aspect of the collective teachings. To many people, the individual Gurus have become personal connections to the Guru, serving as specific archetypes to guide them towards elevated choices in life. People call upon Guru Ram Das when they need compassion and a miracle. People call upon Guru Gobind Singh when they need courage to overcome all adversity.

Siri Guru Granth Sahib

The sacred scripture of Sikhism, known as the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, represents a harmonious blend of the formless divine reality and the divine manifested in physical form. It encompasses the complete teachings of the Sikh Gurus and serves as the eternal living Guru for all Sikhs. Listening to the Guru's sacred word, or hukam, is akin to comprehending the profound language of the soul itself. Immersing oneself in the divine wisdom, acceptance, and unconditional love contained within the Guru Granth Sahib is likened to diving into a deep pool of spiritual enlightenment.

But how do you make the connection you need? 

Everyone has to discover their own path to the experience of "Guru." For some individuals, the path will be clearly defined and accessible. For others, it might be difficult, elusive, filled with uncertainty and confusion. At times, there is a yearning in the heart that propels one forward. At other times, one might hesitantly stumble upon their own awakening, causing their eyes to open and catch a glimpse of recognition - recognition that the next chosen step holds the promise of alignment and connection. Truly, as one searches for "Guru," one also finds their 'Self.'

Guru Nanak says it best, “Jau tau prem khelan ka chau, Sir dhar tali gali meri aau. It marag pair dharijay, Sir deejai kaan na keejay. 

(If you want to play the Game of Love, put your head in the palms of your hands. If you set foot on this path, do not hesitate to give your head.)


*Based on an article by Pritpal Singh Khalsa, published in on 12th February 2015


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