“Guru is a four letter word”

Yesterday, I had a double guru experience. My son was home sick, so I couldn’t work. Instead, I finished watching a documentary called Kumare.


Here is the synopsis of Kumare:

“A provocative social experiment-turned-documentary, KUMARE follows American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi as he transforms himself into a wise Indian guru, hoping to prove the absurdity of blind faith. Instead, he finds himself forging profound connections with people from all walks of life — and wondering if and when to reveal his true self. Will his followers accept his final teaching? Can this illusion reveal a greater spiritual truth? Winner of South by Southwest’s Audience Award, KUMARE is an insightful look at faith and belief.

Watching this film simultaneously engendered doubts about gurus and inspired me to the spiritual powers of ordinary humans. Vikram Gandhi sets out to pose as a guru, but ends up transforming others lives, as well as his own, in the process. Still, I felt a bit jaded.

Then last night, I attended a Conversation on Compassion at Stanford University. A guru I had never heard about named Sadhguru eradicated any doubts I had about spiritual leaders, enlightenment, or gurus.

sadhguru at Stanford

Interestingly enough, Sadhguru started the talk by explaining how he entered spirituality as a skeptic, much like Vikram Gandhi.

“Even if one has the wrong intentions, but travels the right path, one will find the truth.”

Sadhguru acknowledged the skepticism around gurus: “Guru is a four letter work.” He explained that a guru is merely a “live roadmap,” not meant to be worshiped. He also assured everyone that when we are dealing with what is inside us, no one is better than anyone else. We might be in better physical shape than others or more intelligent, but when we look inside, we are all the same.

What most impressed me about Sadhguru was his insistence on serving others (although he didn’t see it as service since we are all one).

“If we do not do what we can do that is a disastrous life.”

“If your heart is full of love, then you can never do enough.”

Hearing these statements, I immediately thought about Rarasaur. It is my duty to help Rara. I will continue to send letters, love, and what money I can afford to help her out.

I hate to personalize this guru juxtaposition, but I couldn’t help but see it as a call and response. I started the day with some doubts, yet within hours those doubts were quickly abated. Part of me feels like I was calling on the Universe to show me a sign, and almost immediately the Universe answered. Coincidence? Serendipity? Destiny? It really doesn’t matter, because I’m a believer.

Do you believe in destiny, serendipity, or fate? Please share.



22 comments on ““Guru is a four letter word”

  1. Geo Sans says:

    right answer
    wrong question
    life moves
    beyond our control

  2. diannegray says:

    I’m a great believer in destiny and fate, Kozo. I think this helps when things go horribly wrong because I just think ‘it was meant to be.’ My mother calls me a fatalist and thinks it’s a bad thing, but it’s not at all.

    PS – did you mean to write “Guru is a four letter work” when talking of Sadhguru? I didn’t know if it was a typo or if you meant something I didn’t quite understand.


    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I’m right with you, Dianne. When things go wrong is when we really have to delve deep in our faith of destiny. The Universe is so intelligent–far more intelligent than our limited intellects.

      No typo. I think Sadhguru was referring to the negative connotations that the word “guru” has nowadays. Everyone on twitter seems to be a guru of something. Also, gurus have been exposed to be corrupt and sexually motivated.

      {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  3. There is no question of understanding anything properly without an authorized guru…. this is clearly confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, Indias most sacred Sanskrit scripture.

    “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.” -Bg. 4.34

    The problem is finding such an individual in today”s world of cheaters is very difficult unless you yourself have impeccable personal integrity and honesty. The focal question before accepting anyone as your guru is to ask: Who taught this person? Are their teaching consistent with the Vedic Scriptures and are they consistent with what the great sages thru history have also concurred upon? India is producing guru’s left and right and the majority of them have a very feeble understanding of what the Vedic conclusion is and therefore they should be rejected. The fact that they wear a turban and have an East Indian complexion means absolutely NOTHING.

    If you want to be cheated, there are lots of spiritual charlatans ready to take your money and give you a lot of meaningless hyperbole or word juggling rhetoric. The most obvious example of this is everyone who takes up the banner of the Neo-Advaita teachings which is now very popular but is grossly misleading and incomplete. People are foolishly accepting the Neo-Advaita stuff, and all the variations on it as “Spiritual” when it is actually the most insidious form of narcissistic atheism.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I agree that there are a lot of charlatans out there, Garry. But there are also countless “living roadmaps” in every generation from a variety of traditions that are willing to guide and support us for free. Sadhguru had an interesting idea: Since the majority of the wealth in the world is controlled by a very small group of people, if we can transform those people then we could transform the world. He even offered to PAY any of these individuals $100,000 to spend a weekend with him.
      {{{hugs}}} Kozo

    • 1EarthUnited says:

      Gary I agree with you. No need to get hung up over words or concepts like “guru”. A guru represents a clear mirror for the observer, reflecting our very selves. We are so “powerful” that our minds literally create our own reality. If we perceive “world full of cheaters” with our pre-conceived minds, then thats what we get. I find Satguru to be a reasonable, rational person. If he helps you see/ understand u’r “self” then he’s served his purpose. I love Osho’s statement about worshipping everyone, or no one, because ultimately there’s only One. Words and thoughts are all minds games of the ego, and that’s all right because it helps us to expose the facade and uncover who we really are.
      I also agree that helping others is the path to wholeness and ultimate love, then we’ll ALL know for sure all the mysteries, everything we ever wanted to know, we are “that” all along. Keep spreading the love. ♥

  4. yogaleigh says:

    I kind of like the view of destiny some now-forgotten teacher had: there’s a general plan for your life (destiny) but it’s like getting from St. Louis to Malaysia. You could choose to fly the fastest way and get there immediately. You could use some combo of buses, planes, trains, cars, pack horses… You might go down to the south pole and back up to the north, zigging and zagging your way there. You might wind up marooned and never get there. In other words, there’s an overall plan but you get to choose how and when and whether you get there.
    I’ve been trying to spread the word about Rara too. Such a distressing situation!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thanks, Leigh. Rara needs our support.
      I love the idea of a general travel plan. Seems like many of us are taking the long route. haha. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  5. Great title for the post.

    You’ve got me wanting to watch this documentary.

    And this quote is just what I needed today:

    “Even if one has the wrong intentions, but travels the right path, one will find the truth.”


    • Kozo Hattori says:

      It is an interesting documentary, LE. I would watch some Sadhguru videos first, however, especially if I had limited time. Sadhguru has some great insights into everything from happiness to world peace. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  6. Oh you know me Kozo – I live by serendipity, or intuition, or whatever you want to call it. It is the only way to live. I sent money to Rara and Dave, and in the next few days will send her a postcard. We are doing a tour of about 10 tiny but exquisite UNESO World Heritage Byzantine churches in the Troodos Mountains of Cypress. Whenever I can I light a candle for her and Dave in these sacred places. They are all about 1000 years old. One thousand years of devotion. I hope it helps. Love to you my friend. You are doing a very good thing.
    (((((hugs))))) A.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      You know as well as I do, Alison, that energy is beyond time and space. I know Rara feels your support and love, as do I. Sorry, I haven’t been by the blog lately–been busy with the Rara support and creating a program on raising compassionate boys. Will drop by soon. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  7. I certainly believe in fate. Too many things have happened around me and to me that seem to have had a greater meaning and/or reason.

  8. I believe in fate. When terrible things have befallen me, I may live through a period of hell, but when I have emerged on the other side I have been forever changed, and without exception, for the better. Unforeseen and unplanned painful things may happen, but how we let it affect it is up to us. If we are smart, we find ourselves a guru (in my situation a psychotherapist and the Dalai Lama) to help guide us.

  9. I saw this film and was also left feeling a little unbalanced. I do see how as individuals we have the power to bring healing to each other. But I think we overlook our ability to heal ourselves as well. Sometimes it’s a matter of being able to intuit if something is beneficial for you. If it’s not, have the courage to let it go and find what works.

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