Tag Archive: guru purnima

Guru Purnima?

I had forgotten completely about this full moon holiday named “guru purnima.” But last night when I was getting off the bus after evening Spanish class, i was greeted by the brightness of the moon and I stopped and bathed in it. It was a few minutes before I took the picture. I love it when the camera adds something not visible to the naked eye.

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Some Musings on Guru Purnima

This full moon is both the one called by some “guru purnima“–with rituals to honor the teacher–and also  the relatively rare blue moon. I’ve been seeing lots of postings on social media about guru purnima by my friends who are engaged in the practice, study, and teaching of yoga.  The variations in the postings about guru purnima are as wide as what the person believes is the guru–from recognition of a person who has been named a guru; to teachers, recognized as such; to simply the invocation of our own teacher within.  Suggestions for ritual range from specific puja to just an invitation to think about the concept and to recognize those who have imparted wisdom to us that has enhanced our lives (even if we have to do a lot of work to know that).

I’ve never personally been called to have a guru (among other things, it is too counter to my unprogrammed Quaker upbringing).  I do, though, have many teachers, some more formally serving in that role than others and I cheerfully honor them today.

I invite you to think about what it means to have teachers, i.e., to be a true student.  How we might be living if we consciously interrelate with all around us, human and not, as both a student and teacher all of the time?  What quality of listening and openness would that require?  What might we be learning?  What might we teach?

Dakshinamurti

 

 

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A Book Recommendation in Honor of Guru Purnima

I am curious about the concept of guru, and as usual, when I am curious about something some large part of my exploration is through books. As my latest entry in books about gurus, I’ve just finished reading Rachel Manija Brown’s “All the Fishes Come Home to Roost,” memoir about her years as an American child in an Indian ashram.

The tale a wonderful example of how humor and curiosity can help us survive human challenges and discomfort and how story telling itself can be an act of healing.  Finishing the book at the start of guru purnima reminds me of how many of my teachers have been books.

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Guru Purnima (without a “guru”)

A yoga teacher acquaintance once said rather dogmatically to me that it was not possible to be a true yoga teacher unless one had a guru.  He meant having a guru in the traditional sense — being devoted to a particular person as the embodiment of the divine and of the true teachings.  I did not engage on the issue, thinking (perhaps unfairly) that he would not listen to another point of view.

I do not have a guru in the technical sense.  It would be unlikely.  I was raised attending unprogrammed meetings of the Society of Friends (Quakers), where services are premised on the idea that there should be no preacher or minister because the light of the spirit shines equally in all and that each person is equally able to connect through his or her own faith and practice to the spirit.  My first major exposure to the teachings of yoga was through the writings of J. Krishnamurti, which a teacher in an alternative program in high school I attended gave us to read, along with the classic yoga texts.  Krishnamurti believed that all change comes from within and eschewed devotion to a guru.

Although I do not have a particular guru to whom I give my devotion (bhakti), I strive to honor and recognize that our true teacher is the light and spirit that is within all beings.  The first line of the Anusara invocation — om namah shivaya gurave — resounds with truth for me.

On this guru purnima, the full moon of July, I honor the teachings that have so shifted my life, my teachers, especially John Friend and Suzie Hurley, and all of my students and friends, who shine with light always, and who inspire me to try each day to live more aligned with the ideals of yoga.

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