📖 Day 19 Cookbook Discussion Prompt - THE GURU

Welcome to day 19 of our Cookbook for a Sacred Life virtual course!

Today our topic is The Guru.

Ram Dass’s spiritual path was based on a Guru model (Guru Kripa) - one of the central components of Bhakti Yoga. It is often a difficult concept for Westerners to understand, but once we are able to see beyond our dualistic perspectives, we begin to understand that God, Guru and Self are all One.

Ram Dass:

Question: Does everyone have a guru?

Answer: Yes. However, you may or may not meet your guru on the physical plane in this lifetime. It isn’t necessary. Since the relation between a guru and chela (disciple) is not on the physical plane, the guru can act upon you from within yourself. You may meet him through dreams or visions or merely sense his presence. However, it is only after much purification that you will honor these meetings rather than rejecting them in favor of the more gross manifestations. There have been many saints who realized enlightenment without ever meeting their guru in a physical manifestation.

PROMPT: Reflect on the quote above from Ram Dass…have you ever met a teacher or guru, in person or not on the physical plane?

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Yes. I met my Guru, Yogiraj Gurunath Siddhanath, twice. Once in NYC when he initiated a large group of us into Kundalini Kriya yoga, and once outside Philadelphia at a more intimate Satsang.

During that second meeting, I did as I was advised by my teacher prior to the Satsang, in that I simply closed my eyes for most of my Gurunath’s homily and basked in his Divinity.

Truth be told, I didn’t sleep for a few days after that Satsang.


I interact with several of my teachers but I’m not sure if I would consider them ‘my guru’.

By definition of the relationship, I suppose the term may apply to two teachers, but the resonance and relevance isn’t always there. Much of this may be due to the maturity or heterogeneity of my practice. The idea of taking on monastic hangups doesn’t really appeal to me that much…

Otherwise, I do find taking refuge in the triple gem (buddha, dharma, sangha) to provide the spiritual nutrition I generally am seeking in a guru. No individual component more important than the other.

The pandemic has provided more online and global opportunities to engage others on the practice. For this I am grateful. Investigating the dharma is now globally accessible online and not limited to restricted channels of influence.

For me, the relational connection that is essential to growth and learning is often more directly tied to the sangha than the teacher. Part of this is due to hierarchies or other commercial phase gates…lol.


I’m beginning to think that I have. The story about Ramakrishna touching Vivekananda with his foot and Vivekananda yelling, “But I have family at home!” was very relatable to me. In my experience it wasn’t a foot, but more of a thought. I was thinking about reality vs hallucination and reflecting on how my dad told me that when you’re hallucinating it’s not real. Then a little child’s voice came in my head and said “Is reality even real?” That caused what I think they described as the whole experience of Cosmic Consciousness for me.

It was a bit jarring to have that happen. Somewhere in the middle of that I had the thought that it doesn’t matter if it’s real. I love my family and so I believe they exist. This brought me back down to earth, and here I am today lol.

And later in my life I can see how Maharaji transmitted to me through Ram Dass on a different occasion. Pretty impressive.


I find the whole thought of defining satguru (true teacher) vs upaguru (everything can be my teacher) confusing. Different spiritual teachers have told me they are my guru but it seems not to be my satguru. The greatest teacher that I met in my life, Ram Dass during the end of his life, claimed to not be a guru. On another plane, I have spent time with Maharaj-ji and he feels more like my guru than anyone else even though we did not meet physically in my lifetime. I have to say the confusion brought on by it is part of my path, but I must not be the only one.

As Tony said, I can see now that the being which we all call Maharaj-ji was more or less being channelled by Ram Dass through his devotion to Neem Karoli Baba. NKB’s consciousness is vast and fixated on Ram. By channeling that energy, Ram Dass showed us all glimpses into and shared what being with Maharaj-ji in the flesh must’ve been like.


This is such a mysterious one. I got into Ram Dass and the path, and just spent years reading, and learning. The question of a Guru appearing for me was there, but I didn’t know where to look or who it would be. As the years have gone by, its clear my guru is Neem Karoli Baba, Maharajji. I had some sort of health issue for awhile, lost an alarming amount of weight, and ended up passing out in my apartment. When I woke up, I felt I had died, took awhile to actually convince myself I wasnt in the hereafter. But what was clear to me, as clear as day, was that Maharajji had saved me. I didnt have visions of him in that moment, I didnt hear his voice, but it was just an intuitive knowing that he had saved me. I bought a very sizable framed photo of Maharajji immediately afterward. In Miracle of Love he said, “When you think of me, I am there”, or “When you look at my picture, I appear”. He did indeed, I experienced this first hand.

Parvati Markus’s book Whisper In The Heart, from last year, is filled with stories similar to mine, of people who encountered Maharajji long after he left the body. It does feel strange to think I have a guru that isnt in a physical body anymore! You used to have to travel to India to encounter Maharajji, but now, he’s everywhere, no need to fly to India to do it. I encountered him in my living room in Eugene Oregon. I met him and his grace while reading Parvati’s book, actually a couple of her books, I had a vision while reading. Maharajji has been with me before I even knew his name, he’s here now, and will be until the end of time. I feel that and know that in my very core.

I feel like he’s looking out for me, guiding me, and counseling me, and also at times being a rascal and pointing out to me where I am caught. At times he rips my heart open and wondrous grace pours forth, and I love all beings just as he said. Other times he begs me to focus on the here and now and appreciate it because life in this incarnation is so shockingly brief. Oftentimes I merely have to read some Holy Book, or a sentence in one and some reaction happens in my life in regards to it. I even narrate my life to his picture on my puja table, “Hey Maharajji, Im cooking some rice and I have to walk over to the grocery store soon, the weather has been cold lately, hasn’t it?”. It’s a very alive relationship. He’s got my back. All this stuff is so ineffable, its hard to quantify it, to explain it. Its that knowingness, intuitively felt. Its kind of hard to discuss with the outer world to an extent. Talking to your guru that isnt in a physical body, at least in the West, just isnt a topic of conversation I’d bring up with coworkers at a bar or at the next staff meeting at work. Its more personal, and something I’d share here with the satsang as this is an accepting and open and safe environment.


In Dec 2004, I received a vision in a dream of a symbol. (See my symbol avatar image.) I sketched it immediately, carefully rendering the correct proportions and alignment. I knew not what it meant, but it felt truly significant. It felt like what I described it as “a protectorate symbol.” Upon my experience of awakening beyond conditioned-mind, the symbol’s relevant meaning became an integral aspect of consciousness guidance. I nearly immediately got the symbol tattooed on my body, which is my only tattoo. (Note: This may not make sense to you, as it does for me, though in this community context, I feel free to express this at this time. I have been very cautious and careful to share this information, as most people I have met do not seem to understand.) –)| Inspirited Energetic Presencing Oneness, Happy Matter Attitude, Existential Being/Manifestation/Form.

Today’s focus on God-Guru-Self as One assists my understanding of my experience of Life’s transmission of guidance for me. Ram Dass’ audio teaching for today contributes to my understanding of how I may practice trusting in this unusual personal experience as a direct graceful inculcation of wisdom.

I have had various teachers, but I have not had an individual Guru.



Interesting. And, yes. I agree. I think Ram Dass is my guru - his teachings first showed up, randomly, when I needed them and, to this day, there are so many random timings that are so on point I now am no longer surprised or freaked out. I also believe the guru is whoever we are with at any point, as there are so many opportunities for awakening. Like Ram Dass said, ‘the guru in drag’ could be anyone but, more than likely, the person you find most difficult and challenging. As well as that, I’ve had teachers come to me in all shapes and sizes, but, my greatest teachers are my children. They are my gurus. They are a gift and I am learning so much about myself through being as conscious as I can with them and working on myself to be a better mother to them. A better human. But without striving. There’s always a quiet acceptance and appreciation of myself and all of the learning I am so fortunate to explore in my life.


Have I experienced a physical guru? I don’t think so. Back in July when I visited India I attended a Ganga Aarti. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many loving people at the banks of the Mother Ganga. As Pujaswamiji entered people were falling over themselves to see him, get close to him. We made eye contact and he gave me this head nod of understanding. It was pretty early on this spiritual journey, so I couldn’t understand how/why I felt so emotional about this person. Then as he exited he made eye contact with me and waved goodbye. I can’t tell if my ego just loves that I was noticed :sweat_smile: or if there is something more there to explore.

Besides that moment, I have to admit, that every time I am listening to stories of Neem Karoli Baba I cry. Without fail. Every. Single. Time. I am actually making a trip to his Hanuman temple in Taos, NM this year. I can’t say I identify him as my guru, but I am captivated by his message for seva and love for all. Sub Ek :pray: :blue_heart:


Love that you shared this David! Such a powerful teaching and thanks for trusting us to hold it well.


:heart: :heart: :heart: :heart:
The Ashram is a special place. Love that you shared this. Clearly it touches something deep!

1 Like

Yes. I consider Yeshua the Christ my guru, and he is not on the physical plane.

This was SUCH a fun audio to listen to. :star_struck:

And some of the quotes are just amazing.

“Dislodging a green nut from its shell is almost impossible, but let it dry and the lightest tap will do it.”

~ Ramakrishna

"Men bound in fellowship first weep and lament,
But afterward they laugh.

After great struggles they succeed in meeting.

Two people are outwardly separated, but in their hearts they are united.

They are kept apart by their positions in life.

Many difficulties and obstructions arise between them and cause them grief.

But, remaining true to each other, they allow nothing to separate them, and although it costs them a severe struggle to overcome the obstacles, they will succeed.

When they come together their sadness will change to joy.

Confucius says of this:

Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.
Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.

Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,
There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.

But when two people are at one in the inmost hearts,
They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.

And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,
Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids."

~ I Ching

“The cock crowing in the milky dawn thinks its call raises the sun; the child howling in a closed room thinks its cries open the door.

But the sun and the mother go their own way, following the laws of their beings.

Those who see us, even though we cannot see ourselves, opened the door for us, answering our puerile calculations, our unsteady desires, and our awkward efforts with a generous welcome.”

~ René Daumal

Context for this one:


Yes!! I’d like to say the universe, allah, karma, spirit even. They’ve all been by Guru through and in front of me.

I love this life so much and all of you for being such amazing humans :blue_heart::green_heart::sparkles::seedling:


I have come to see that I have teachers who are part of my guru experience. My spiritual director, Jerry, and spiritual teacher Richard Rohr, along with others are ones who influence and guide me. And, our beloved Ram Dass, whom I never met, but guides me with his words and voice. His spirit is with me and is especially felt during his guided meditations. We can’t seem to let each other go. Life also is part of my guru experience in its challenges, teachings, relationships, situations. Spiritual writer Paula D’Arcy said, “God comes to us disguised as our life.” It’s God, self and guru rolled into one.


I have met many teachers, have had many teachers, and am very thankful for all of them, all of us, all of this and that and the other. As far as a Guru, I have felt the result of connection with Hazrat Inayat Khan (HIK) who for me at least represents Christ, if not an incarnation on him.

I do, at times, feel limitless love for and from HIK especially through teachers with a deep connection to him. And honestly, Asha Greer holds a similar place in my heart. I thought of her as a grandmother and that’s how I feel about HIK.

That is as close to a Guru as I have come. I guess I am one of those without a conscious connection with a Guru who have their own lives to serve as that relationship.

At this point, I’d like a Guru, though my life is not one I could leave. As @ Louisa_Flynn said in her reponse, my children are my Gurus. And that is probably more demanding than any other.


That our guru is not necessarily in person or even on this plane of existence has been a relief to me.

I have been skeptical of finding a personal, in person guru because of the frequent spiritual abuse and manipulation that has taken place in the past by many teachers who claim this status. Especially when they say things about trusting your heart/charm/inner promptings and then at some point money (or some other cohesion) comes into play.

But now I’m no longer grasping or seeking such and take the influence of various teachers I’ve had and learned what I can to change and transform me.

From a deep internal sense of presence and connectedness I do experience someone but not exactly sure which being other than the Divine. It would be nice to have a name though. It might be cosmic Christ (ala Richard Rohr) although there’s a lot of past religious baggage that I don’t want to pick up again.

Maybe for now I just sit with this heart desire and when I’m ready the guru will come.


In one of the interviews on the Be Here Now podcast series, it was said that Ram Dass asked one of his students what we would need for living in a better world. One of the replies was “we need strong female leaders”. I deeply resonate with this thought on many levels. I’ve always been struggling with the guru as naturally being a man.


Hello beautiful people :hugs:

I have met one of two of my gurus…

Jesus has shown himself to me on a trip I took with my dad called “The River of Crystals”. I’ve consider it a “sacred” place.

On my 3rd day of hiking I became very ill :face_with_thermometer: vomiting :face_vomiting: and horrible stomach bug. Day after I woke up as if nothing had happened and the image of Jesus Christ was on the sheet I was laying on… Much healing happened between my dad and I on that trip.

Since I have experienced Jesus speak through me and at time I can hear his guidance.

My second guru is Yogananda. He has come to me so I can study his divine teaching of Self Realization… He often sends me towards avenues that can help me better understand his teachings…



I had what I call ‘my awakening’ back in 2019, during a really long trail race in which all my stresses, internal & external pains were gone and I realized we are all One and Love. Since then I’ve been trying to find that feeling again.

Last week I was in Sedona with my wife, and hiking the beautiful mountains every day. We did this land journey with a Shaman woman, and she made a comment about this area being the ashram, and the mountains our guru’s and it just felt right. Not sure how to explain it. Still need to explore that a bit more :slight_smile:


I feel very fortunate to have had teachers manifest in my life several times, provide me with knowledge that I was ready to receive and then be gone. I’ve also had profound spiritual connection occur in dream state that stayed with me powerfully and clearly after waking. I feel enormous gratitude for all of those experiences. I feel like they became a part of my whole being and they connected me more deeply of everything else.