Rudi was a tsunami of śakti that swept its way through our lives and consciousness, washing away ego and misunderstanding. Like a tsunami, he left as quickly as he came, leaving behind the gift of unfolding freedom. — Swami Khecaranatha
The only true gift of a guru is that of unfolding freedom in his or her students. The singular purpose of our relationship with a teacher is to give us the support we need to establish our own direct connection with God. That support creates a conduit to śakti, the power of the grace that is freeing us.
The possibility of the unfolding of freedom is always activated by God, but for most people a relationship with a teacher is required to power it. Once the longing to know God propels us to find a teacher, we discover in that connection the energy necessary to fuel our journey. The teacher is an energy source that we can tune in to because we may not have the mechanism, the sensitivity, or even the awareness to dial into that resonance on our own. Being that conduit is the entire purpose of a teacher. Connecting to that conduit is the whole point of śakti transmission, one of the most fundamental aspects of this practice. Tantric tradition explains that there are four forms of transmission: by look, touch, word, or thought — each as valid as the other. Open-eye transmission, which is rare, came to us through my teacher Rudi.
Our connection to a teacher and their lineage is not limited by any one of those forms of transmission — or even by being in the physical presence of the teacher. Our journey is really the unfolding of Śiva within Himself. The teacher helps us to open and absorb an energy that can wash away ego and misunderstanding, so that we have our own direct connection to God.
The relationship with that energy is not a relationship with a person. While that is part of the dynamic, it is a relationship with the freedom-bestowing power of the Divine. My guru left his body just fifteen months after I met him, almost fifty years ago, and I feel his presence more today than when he was alive.
The Gift of Freedom
The teacher is essentially a messenger who lives in service to God. He is like a step-down substation from the highest Teacher. The gift of unfolding freedom that we receive through such a carrier is both a gift and a responsibility. The responsibility is that we must recognize the miraculous gift we have been given and actively choose to respond to the incredible possibility of freedom. It is our duty to open to that gift on a daily basis in order to receive the perpetual transmission of Consciousness that is pouring down on us at all times from the Divine.
The moment of recognition and revelation that occurs through transmission is truly extraordinary. What is also extraordinary is how easily we can allow ourselves to walk away from that gift because we lose sight of the importance of the guru or teacher – because we might find him imperfect, we don’t like his message, we want to “be our own guru,” or we think his teachings don’t work. There is usually only one reason why teachings don’t work, and that’s because we haven’t done them!
There is an extraordinary quote from Rinpoche Padmasambhāva, who is the grandfather of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism: “There is nothing more useless than having a teacher whose guidance and direction we only follow when we agree with it.”
Don’t bring what you think you know to your relationship with your teacher. Bring the place in you that wants to know. Which is another way to describe sādhana – that we are prepared, unwaveringly, to surrender the limited part of ourselves from which we are being freed. This part of us will not “go quietly into that goodnight” – it just won’t! All resistance, struggle, arrogance, fear, and anger are manifestations of ego. They are simply the many ways that the ego holds onto us. Be willing to allow the ego to be revealed, so that you can recognize the limited place of consciousness within yourself that we normally function from. That is that very thing that does not allow the perpetual unfolding to take place.
The greatest act of love from a teacher is to free you. It sometimes doesn’t feel like love, because we often do not really want to be freed from that which we most need to be free of. If you are lucky, you might have a teacher who is willing to love you until you are free from yourself. I count myself as one of the lucky ones.
I encourage you to establish yourself in a strong connection to your teacher and lineage so that you, too, can discover the depth of the gift that awaits you.