Guru Purnima

Friday, July 15, is the holy day of Guru Purnima, the day of honoring the Guru. This holiday lands on the 1st full moon in July. Traditionally, in the Guru/Student relationship, the student gathers a bundle of sticks and offers them to the teacher. The sticks represent all the internal obstacles that keep this student lost in the cycle of unhelpful habits and selfishness. In presenting the bundle of sticks to the Guru, the student is acknowledging their own helplessness in clarity and will-power and asking the full-fledged support of the Guru in overcoming these obstacles. If the Guru accepts, the Guru proceeds to burn the sticks, and the process of purifying the student proceeds in full earnestness.

The larger meaning of the word Guru is that which sheds light on our darkness (darkness being our ignorance, confusion, and slothfulness). In all the ways that we are uplifted, have a moment of clarity, care about something more than ourselves – all of this is the work of the guru. These moments can come to us through another person, through a quote in a book, a hike in nature, an inner moment of illumination. However the shedding of light comes to us, the result is always the same. Something expands within us.

Swami Rama says this about Guru Purnima: “This day is considered to be very holy. For on this day students become aware that life is not to be lived only in the external world—that there is something higher, deeper, than what they have been doing……So today is a day when I, when everyone, remembers his teacher, his teachings, and becomes aware of the Reality within.”

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