Finding a Guru

By Ketut Suardana

Exclusively for The Bali Times

Om Swastiastu.

Let me introduce myself, a Balinese from Ubud who has travelled to India over the last few years. I have had the honor to meet many holy men in Bali and India and, of course, have experienced a lifetime of Hindu teaching. It has been a constant process of learning from the many gurus I have met on the way. As a devout follower of Lord Shiva, I will attempt to present the Balinese concept of Hinduism – the three worlds – Bhur (material), Bwah (spiritual), Swah (celestial world). A guru can guide you through these three worlds of balance, harmony and enlightenment.

Before we try to comprehend the Balinese concept of the world, we must first understand what makes up this world. Here is a short explanation, which will be discussed in detail in later editions of The Bali Times.

The gurus consist of Catur Guru, which leads to Catur Asram and then onto Catur Artha. They have maps that guide us through the material and spiritual world.

Catur (Four) Guru:

1 Guru Rupaka – parents – how they teach us worldly knowledge on behavior, values, family, social obligations, morals, material things.

2 Guru Pengajian – our schoolteachers – who share knowledge and lay the basic foundation for our understanding of the universal things.

3 Guru Wisesa – the social system that teaches us rights, duties and responsibilities.

4 Guru Swadiaya – our God, the ultimate teacher. We in Bali believe only in one God.

The Catur Guru will direct you to Catur Asram, which consists of four stages.

1 First stage is Brahmacari – A quarter of our life is spent in mastering knowledge and experience in relation to creating a distinct identity.

2 Second stage is Grehasta – Once our identity is established, the next stage is our obligation to build a family, educate the children and to create material wealth for future generations.

3 Third stage is Wanaprasta – When the family has been provided for in all areas, then we need to practice Wanaprasta, i.e. to increase the religious and spiritual content in our lives.

4 Fourth stage is Bhisuka – To impart all knowledge learned by us to others who are still at the earlier stages of Catur Guru.

We live in two worlds – Sekala and Niskala – the seen and unseen. How do we bridge these two worlds to make our lives complete?

The answer is through the Catur Purusha Artha, the four elements essential for progress:

Artha – wealth – The manner and method of making money and acquiring wealth must be based on Dharma, that is, working honestly and not cheating or stealing to accumulate wealth.

Kama – desire – Our desires should be morally and ethically sound, and should never be for selfish reasons.

Dharma – This is the universal law that guides and directs us through Artha and Kama.

Moksah – It is only after we have mastered Artha, Kama and Dharma that can we attain moksah, i.e freedom from the material world and a oneness with God.

So who is our guru?

Not everyone can become a guru in the true sense of the word. God chooses gurus. So how do we find our guru? I cannot speak for anyone else but myself, but here are some thoughts I will share with you.

A year or so ago, I had a medical problem that required hospitalization and many months of recuperation. I was in great pain. As a Balinese who had rarely been to a doctor, it came as a huge shock to me. I wondered whether the God I prayed to could help relieve me of my pain. What had I done to deserve this condition? also crossed my mind. I was plagued with thoughts like these, as you can imagine.

One day, a cousin came to visit me. We chatted about illness and how it plays havoc with mind, body and soul. My cousin could see my distress. During the course of the conversation, he suggested I see a local Balinese healer that he had been to several times. “I almost died,” he said, and was in a state of unconsciousness when the family brought him to the healer. His family was desperate to help him and his wife was in a state of panic.

“Go and see him; he will help you,” said the cousin. I took his advice, called some friends and we went to visit this revered healer. I don’t know if you have been to a Balinese healer before, but for a Balinese, this is the type of treatment that has the greatest meaning, more than any Western treatment can provide.

On seeing me, the healer said: “You are already half dead. Your spirit is suffering.”

After the treatment, he blessed me with holy water and gave me certain instructions.

When I look back, I can see the healer gave me my life energy back. He brought back my spirit and regenerated my soul. Since then he has become my guru, because I know he has the power to guide me.

We all have our problems and we might pray to our God for help. But we need to have a person to comfort us in the physical world, someone to share our thoughts and concerns. Therefore, the guru is the person who is the conduit between God and man.

I found my guru through a friend who understood what I was going through. I learned from my experience that you need to look around and listen to what is being said and by whom. You will find your guru. It’s not easy and you have to be patient because the real guru is happy to give you what you expect without asking for something in return. Sometimes people try to become gurus but they don’t have the ability or power and they are not blessed by God.

Have you ever wondered why the Balinese perform so many religious ceremonies? We owe a debt to our gurus for what we have received in our lives. This is called Tri Rna, Pitra Rna, Rsi Rna and Dewa Rna (your ancestors, holy men and God).

So please join me next week when I will delve into the Balinese concept of Karma.

Semoga damai di bumi, damai di hati, damai di langit.

Peace on earth, peace in your heart, peace in the sky.

This column is written in consultation with the author’s priest.

Filed under:
, The Island

2 Responses to “Finding a Guru”

  1. Matthond Says:

    Well said, finally a good report on this stuff

  2. Moshe Bendig Says:

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