What is the difference between a Guru & a teacher?

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In the realms of spirituality, what distinguishes a teacher from a guru? Sadhguru delves deep into the essence of these roles, revealing that while a teacher imparts knowledge, a guru embodies a profound level of perception. From the ancient sages who shaped Indian mathematics to the modern seers who simply 'see', discover the subtle differences that define these spiritual guides. Dive in to uncover the mystical layers of gurus, saints, and sages.


Duration: 5 min


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4 min read

What is the difference between a Guru & a teacher?

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

To be a teacher you must know something, isn’t it? To be a guru you need not know anything. It’s just that you don’t know anything but you got eyes to see. Whatever you want, you can look and speak, but to be a teacher you have to know something. If you don’t know anything, you can’t make a teacher, isn’t it? To be a guru you don’t need to know anything; just a certain level of perception, that’s all. You’re not knowledgeable about anything. It’s easy.

To be a guru you need not know anything

Being a teacher is difficult because you’ll have to remember so many things. The thing is you never try to become a guru. If people notice that you have a certain level of perception, people will recognize you as one. You never, ever try to become one. I’ve done everything to shake off the guru thing, but you cannot, because people will one way or the other recognize it.

Wherever you may be; whether you are in India or otherwise, they may not use the word ‘Guru,’ but nowhere in the world if you found a human being whose perception is beyond yours, could you ignore him. People naturally gathered around them. Maybe they didn’t use the word ‘Guru,’ they use something else, but always it happened, isn’t it?

Saints means they have attained to a certain level of pleasantness

In India, we identify people as saints, sages and seers. Saints means they have attained to a certain level of pleasantness. They can bless people; in their presence everybody feels pleasant. Some well-being happens but they don’t teach anything, they only bless. Sages means they have some grasp, they have become pleasant… their energies have become pleasant, but they have also grasped some knowledge, particular dimensions of knowledge. A sage may be good with astronomy or astrology or with some other dimension.

Sages means they have some grasp… all the Indian mathematics has come from sages, not from university academics

All the Indian mathematics has come from sages, not from university academics; it is sages who came up with mathematics and music. You’ve heard of this? Shiva himself is a great mathematician, musician, dancer, all these things because math came naturally. When somebody looked deep enough into the existence, the mathematic background of it started finding expression in human intelligence and so they naturally became mathematicians. You must read the story of people like Ramanujam and others, they are… they are brilliant mathematicians without any academic support because a certain level of observation which is a sage.

A seer means one who sees – one who sees life just the way it is

A seer means one who sees – see, it’s a very appropriate expression – one who sees life just the way it is. Does it mean others don’t see? Yes, others don’t see. For others, their sense organs are interpreting. See, right now, your sense perception is interpreting this is day; night is going to come after this many hours. You ask the creatures in the forest, their senses are interpreting, this is night, day will come after few hours right now. So it is the interpretation of the senses that you know you are not seeing. A seer means he is seeing it the way it is.

So usually or always, a saint will never claim to be a guru – leave what’s happening today in modern society – I am saying in the tradition, a saint never claimed to be a guru. He was only a saint, he knows that his thing is he’s become like a flower, he can bless. His fragrance will impact people. That’s all he is. A sage is somebody who is always trying to explore a certain dimension of life. He can teach, he can do things. A seer is somebody who simply sees. He can do whatever; any of these things he can do or he may choose not to do anything. It’s up to him what he chooses to do. He will do what is needed in the society at that time or if he is not bothered he will leave it and just sit, but he sees. So a guru must see, otherwise he cannot be a guru. He must be able to see.

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