How to Find a Genuine Guru

This week at The Yoga of Living, we’re boldly going where no man has gone before. At least not here, in this blog.

We’re taking a very sensitive and *important* subject –The Guru– and lifting the veil….So, if you’re curious, stick around.

Otherwise, by all means join us later when we tackle other pressing issues such as: The Yoga of Office Supplies, How to make Yoga-shaped Origami, and, my favorite, I Saw Ganesha in a Piece of Toast.


The Big Question:

In last Tuesday’s comments, the very astute Teeg from Living in the (k)now asked:

I guess the question now is –

How on earth do you begin the journey to finding a guru?!?

Great question, Teeg.

Getting the opportunity to associate with a mahatma is very rare.

In fact, it’s described to be as rare as a turtle in the middle of the ocean who comes up for air, only to have his head fit through the knot-hole in a piece of wood that happens to be floating *right* there.

Rare, indeed.

But the reason why it’s so rare isn’t just because genuine gurus are so scarce (though they are); it’s because genuine disciples are equally so.

Few people really want what a genuine guru has to teach them.

You can fill a stadium with people who will pay big money to hear what they want to hear: Stake your claim! Get what you want! Manifest your dreams!

But only a handful of people will lend an ear to the hard truth, even if it’s free:


A real guru will help you get there.

Decide if you want a guru.

It might seem like a silly question, but bear with me.

This is step one in becoming a genuine disciple.

Make sure that you’re not looking for a parent, or a therapist, or someone to fulfill an emotional need in you. This is more common than you might think.

In Vedic times, a disciple entered the ashram with nothing –no possessions and, certainly, no emotional baggage. Not so, these days!

So, by all means, listen, get inspired and render service.

But when you receive formal initiation, please do so with a clear understanding of what a guru is –and is not.

Do your part.

Pray sincerely to the God of your understanding that your guru finds you.

In the yoga tradition, prayer is generally chanted or sung in kirtan. I’m a big fan of kirtan because it opens the heart like nothing else I know. Plus, I like the idea of serenading the Divine.  :)

Find out what works best for you.

Continue your practice.

Watch for clues.

Then, be patient.

No need to jump on a bandwagon.

Remember that the guru within you is good company while you wait and will lead you to the guru without.

He or she must also be a disciple. Make note of the gurus who precede him or her and the quality of the disciples who follow.

As stated in Śrī Brahma-saḿhitā 5.59: The highest devotion is attained by slow degrees by the method of constant endeavor for self-realization with the help of scriptural evidence, theistic conduct and perseverance in practice.

So be the tortoise who wins the race–

or, better, the turtle who pokes her head through the knot-hole.



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6 Responses to How to Find a Genuine Guru

  1. Thais says:

    oh how i do love me some kirtan!! ya know, there is something very comforting in the fact that you do not have to hunt for a guru; it will come if the time is right. pressure is off. thanks for answering my question beautifully <3

  2. i’m a big believer in the guru within. ;)

  3. yogi102 says:

    how do I pray for a guru in kirtan

    • Rupa says:

      Namaste, yogi102! What a great question.

      My short answer is this: The kirtan evokes God’s presence in the form of sound. Its mantra is both the prayer and its recipient! So just relish the sound of the names. This same, divine presence resides within you and will guide you to guru in due course of time (See Bhagavad-gita 18.61). Discern carefully.

      Love, Rupa

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