Taking the Refuge Vow with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. Deer Park Institute.
Bir, India. Easter Sunday. 2012
I just had a short exchange with a fellow yogini about the role of surrender and the role of the guru in Yoga. I’m reposting my response here:
Yes, WORDS are interesting things. It’s a sound that represents something, but often that word is received differently by various people depending on their karma, references, and history. Surrender is a word that kicks off a lot in people. So does the word guru. For some surrender is equated with powerlessness. However, in the context of a healthy, evolving person with a conscious spiritual practice, it means receiving and it means non-grasping. It means saying Yes, often to what we don’t fully understand or may not like. In regards to the role of a guru, naysayers often simplify things and say the true guru is ONLY within. Here are my thoughts on what is being overlooked by solely taking that stance:
One: Yes, the true guru is within. BUT, it’s obscured by poisons/kleshas/ignorance, WHICH is the point of Yoga practice. To purify ourselves of those so we actually CAN see the guru within. Upon closer examination and practice, the idea of “within” takes on a different meaning when one starts to open up to where one’s fundamental nature might actually be located. Where is it really? In truth, it’s everywhere and nowhere at once—but that’s another conversation.
Two: The purpose of a teacher/guru is that they help us do that. They aid us in that quest and IDEALLY they reflect back to us a more purified state of being that we are on the path to becoming—or waking up to the realization that it was always there. So in that context surrendering to a guru means surrendering to that process, that reflection, that light. It means surrendering to our true power, not becoming powerless.
Three: Yes, the role of guru has been abused. So has the role of mother, father, teacher, sister, brother, boss, etc..you name it. The point is that those poor examples are just a reflection of someone’s individual karma. One cannot dismiss an entire lineage relationship based on someone’s crappy karma and bad choices.
So yes, you are onto something. You are starting to hear the true call of empowerment through surrender.