Who can be a Guru – A Saint, Sage or a Seer?

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Guru / Wisdom For Seekers


What do we seek in a Guru? In India, there are many saints, sages and seers - who can bless, have knowledge about life, and can see life just the way it is. So, are they Gurus? Or can they be Gurus? Sadhguru answers... how he became a guru and what we need to do to explore mystical aspects and experiences in our life.


Duration: 17 min


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12 min read

Who can be a Guru – A Saint, Sage or a Seer?

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. Being a teacher is difficult, because you’ll have to remember so many things.


To be a Guru you don’t need to know anything, just a certain level of perception, that’s all

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? Whichever part of the world.

It is just that in other parts of the world, individual people popped up by themselves without a systemic support. In India people popped up – because there’s a systemic support, more popped up. In other places there is no systemic support, so out of their own thing people popped up. When they popped up, they got chopped down usually, because there’s no systemic support to recognize them. But nobody went unrecognized. I am sure they gathered a few people, and somebody else came and battered them down, isn’t it?

So it doesn’t matter which part of the world it is, if people notice a certain dimension of perception, naturally he will be recognized as the one who perceives – usually in India we identify people as saints, sages and seers.

Saints means they have attained to a certain level of pleasantness

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. 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 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. ‘See’ does not mean – “Can you tell me what’s my future?” Your future is hopeless, if you’re asking that question. If you’re asking that question, it’s a hopeless future, because if your idea of your future being better is only question of, “Will I get the job, will I have money, will I pay my taxes, will I pay my bills?” – this is not a future. This is – you’re just becoming a particle in the existence. You know, you will go round and round in some way.

So future – once you see a certain way that the life is manifesting today, if I see if you do this, this and this, it can manifest in some other way. If I can suggest the right thing to you, that is because you have seen. So that is a seer. If one cannot see, he should not be a Guru. Seeing not just the human aspect of it, the existential aspect of it, to be able to see.

See, these days some technologies have come, I don’t know the names of these technologies, but some things I saw are really phenomenal, okay. See, right now If you sit here – let’s say you’re doing asanas, let us say you do all these asanas and you go away. Now in the space where you did asanas there is a certain memory.

Today there are – whatever they call them, I don’t know what – there are ways to image this, you know. You sat here, did something and went, now they can come and image this – what all things that you did. What is the use of this, how to go to this, I mean they can only think in terms of war, okay? They’ll think how to use it in the military usage, that’s a different thing. But if you do asanas here and you go away, if I walk into this hall, I will see what you have done your asana, is it a process of liberation or is it a way of tying yourself into knots. This can be seen.

If I see you’re doing something like this, then it is not said, “You’re doing this, do this,” we will suggest something else. You must have the sense to just do that. Some simple thing I’ll say, “Why don’t you take a walk and come?” “Oh, why should I go for walk? Morning I walked.” Okay.

Because the moment you try to logically decipher these things, these things won’t work. So always these things are done in subtle ways. Only few people have the sense to follow those subtle instructions. All of them will question and debate, discuss with everybody and destroy it in no time. Say, “Okay, wait for another twelve years, let’s see.” Moments come in one’s life, in one’s cycle of doing things, certain moments come in your life – at that moment when the necessary intervention is made, if you don’t take it, that moment will pass and we’ll have to wait.

If you have the power to create your own moment, not waiting for any cycles, that would be the most fantastic thing to do. But not everybody is there, they will have to wait for that moment. But when that moment comes, naturally instructions will come. Now when I say this, all kinds of flaky minds will start looking at everything as a sign from…, California, you know. They receive all kinds of signs every day. So there is a danger to these things. But at least when proper verbal instructions are given, people should have the sense to do it. Otherwise – because if I try to explain and do it, it’ll not work. “Why will it not work, why can’t you do this, why…?”

See, this is the simple thing – between your physical body and your mind, there’s a certain subtlety that, what happens in your mind cannot be interpreted the same way as we interpret the physical movements, isn’t it? What happens in your emotion cannot be logically interpreted as it happens in your mind, isn’t it so? As things get subtle, it becomes less and less available to the logical process. If we do not understand this logic, if you try to handle everything as you handle physical material, human beings will die.

If you try to handle human beings as physical quantities, you will see nobody will be with you, isn’t it? Yes or no? Don’t you relax the rules of the physical for handle human beings? Somebody is far away, you say okay one, two, three, four – four people, four people. But if they are with you in your home as your family, don’t you relax this laws of physical to interact with them? If you don’t, you will not know any human being on this planet. So this relaxation has to progress. As it goes, if your life has to evolve, you must release more and more things from this. But for doing this, you must have a very stable logical mind. If you don’t have this, you will go off into hallucinatory processes.

This is a thing about spiritual process, that if you establish a very stable body and stable mind, then we can take you into illogical things experientially. If you do not establish this, if we take you into one illogical experience, after that your imagination will run in such a way, you are doing hallucination and thinking it’s real. Hallucination can be more powerful than the real. Actually it is, because it’s exaggerated.

See – people love people that they have not seen, more than the people they have seen. They go to a cinema. Whatever this Rajinikanth or this Tom Cruise or Amitabh Bachchan is a much bigger guy and people love him more than the people who are sitting next to them, because it’s all exaggerated, isn’t it? Because it’s so exaggerated, the man is so big, he speaks so loud and everything that he does is big, the people who’re sitting next to you they can’t look that big, they can’t sound so big, they can’t do anything so big.

Establishing a very stable body and mind is an important part, if we want to explore mystical aspects

So hallucination is an exaggerated reality. Because of that it can become a more powerful thing than reality. But once you fly into the hallucinatory state, you are risking madness. You’re risking the basic stability of your mind. If you go too far, you may not be able to come back. If you can sit here and dream something funny for two minutes and come back, it’s nice. But you started dreaming and you don’t know where to stop, then it’s lost, isn’t it? So establishing a very stable body and mind is an important part, if we want to explore mystical aspects. We should know what’s imagination, what is not. It needs a very, very focused stable thing.

Right now, this simple thing that you’re doing, that consciously like this [gesturing an asana posture] we go, and create another visual impression of something following you, this needs enormous mental work. Do you understand what I am saying? Just to make sure your breathing is just slightly deeper than normal, it needs a lot of mental work. If you keep on using your mind like this, mind becomes very stable ground. It’s not an imaginary fanciful situation, it’s a solid foundation by itself.

The whole system of tantra is like this – that you recreate. If you take this rose petal – I think we told you about it, isn’t it? Just take this rose petal, observe this in as much detail as possible, recreate in your mind. If you want, you can make the rose petal fall down from the sky. That much detail you’ve seen. Every millimeter of it, every micro-millimeter of it, you observed and now you create.

See, right now somebody is painting, okay? How is it? Because somewhere in their mind the image of that leaf or flower or whatever else is perfect, isn’t it? So mind is capable of this. If you take an impression like this and find expression to this, slowly you exercise this mind like this, now this becomes a very stable and powerful instrument. Now you do yoga, you are not flying away, you’re only stabilizing it, stabilizing it, stabilizing it. If it is so stable, you can land just about anything on it. If it’s not that stable, then if something bigger comes to you, people break or fall back.

Lot of people go back whenever big experiences happen

Lot of people go back whenever big experiences happen, lot of people. If something big happens to them they will get frightened about it, they will get defensive about it – they will go backwards. But if they had a very stable mind, whenever something big happens, they would move forward. This is happening to people not only in spiritual process and mystical dimensions, even in simple physical life.

What I am observing most of the time is, if life works, most people become utterly stupid. Very few people use their wealth and affluence for their well-being, most other people become idiotic. They’re going backwards simply because things worked. This need not be so. If things work, you must move forward, isn’t it? But this is what will happen. If our system is not ready and things moved forward, either materially or psychologically or spiritually, whichever way, if we are not ready and something moved forward we’ve gone backwards. This will naturally happen.

Even spiritual experiences will set people backwards, simply because the necessary preparation and sadhana is not there. That’s why it’s always controlled. Whenever we are causing any grand spiritual experiences either in Bhava Spandana or Samyama, it is seriously controlled. Controlled means it’s more controlled than a prison. Yes, it has to be that way. If you leave it, people will fly away into all kinds of things, but that’ll not be good for them. It’ll set them backwards.


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