The Four-Letter Word
Once it happened . . . A customer walking into Shankaran Pillai’s pharmacy saw a man outside hugging a lamppost, his eyeballs rolling wildly.
When he walked in, he asked, “Who’s that man? What’s wrong with him?”
Shankaran Pillai replied, unperturbed, “Oh, that guy. He’s one of my customers.”
“But what’s the matter with him?”
“He wanted something for a whooping cough. I gave him the appropriate medicine.”
“What did you give him?”
“A box of laxatives. I made him take it right here.”
“Laxatives for a whooping cough! Why on earth would you give him that?”
“Oh come on, you saw him. You think he dares to cough anymore?”
Shankaran Pillai’s box of laxatives is emblematic of the type of solution being peddled all over the world today for those in search of well-being. It is the fundamental reason the term “guru” has become a four-letter word.
Unfortunately, we have forgotten the real meaning of the word. “Guru” literally means “dispeller of darkness.” The function of the guru, contrary to popular belief, is not to teach, indoctrinate, or convert. The guru is here to throw light on dimensions beyond your sensory perceptions and your psychological drama, dimensions that you are currently unable to perceive. The guru is here, fundamentally, to throw light on the very nature of your existence.
There are many spurious and dangerously misleading teachings in vogue in our world today. “Be in the moment” is one of them. The assumption is that you could be somewhere else, if you wanted. How is that even possible? The present is the only place that you can
be. If you live, you live in this
moment. If you die, you die in this
moment. This moment is eternity. How are you going to escape it, even if you try?
Right now your problem is that you suffer what happened ten years ago and you suffer what may happen the day after tomorrow. Both are not living truths. They are simply a play of your memory and imagination. Does this mean then that in order to find peace you must annihilate your mind? Not at all. It simply means you need to take charge of it. Your mind carries the enormous reserves of memory and the incredible possibilities of the imagination that are the result of an evolutionary process of millions of years. If you can use it when you want and put it aside when you don’t, the mind can be a fantastic tool. To shun the past and neglect the future is to trivialize this wonderful faculty. So “be in the moment” becomes a crippling psychological restriction—it denies our existential reality.
“Do only one thing at a time” has become another popular self-help slogan. Why would you do only one thing when the mind is a phenomenal multidimensional machine, capable of handling several levels of activity all at once? Instead of harnessing and learning to ride the mind, why would you want to obliterate it? When you can know the heady joy of mental action, why would you opt for a lobotomy, for voluntary cabbage-hood?
The other phrase that has hardened into cliché through overuse is “positive thinking.” When it is oversimplified and used as some quick-fix mantra, positive thinking becomes a way of whitewashing or sugarcoating your reality. When you are unable to process real-time information and control your psychological drama, you seize on “positive thinking” as a tranquilizer. Initially, it might seem to imbue your life with new confidence and optimism. But it is essentially limited. In the long term, if you deny or amputate one part of reality, it gives you a lopsided perspective of life.
Then there is the time-honored business of exporting human well-being to the heavens and claiming that the core of the universe is love. Love is a human
possibility. If you need a refresher course, you can take lessons from your dog. He is full of love! You don’t have to go to outer space to know love. All these puerile philosophies come from the assumption that existence is human-centric. This single idea has robbed us of all sense and made us commit some of the most inhuman and heinous crimes throughout history. These continue to perpetuate themselves to this very day.
As a guru, I have no doctrine to teach, no philosophy to impart, no belief to propagate. And that is because the only solution for all the ills that plague humanity is selftransformation. Self-transformation is not incremental selfimprovement. Self-transformation is achieved not by morals or ethics or attitudinal or behavioral changes, but by experiencing the limitless nature of who we are. Self-transformation means nothing of the old remains. It is a dimensional shift in the way you perceive and experience life.
Knowing this is yoga. One who embodies this is a yogi. One who guides you in this direction is a guru.
My aim in this book is to help make joy your constant companion. To make that happen, this book offers you not a sermon, but a science; not a teaching, but a technology; not a precept, but a path. It is now time to start exploring that science, working the technology, walking the path.
On this journey, the guru is not the destination but the road map. The inner dimension is uncharted terrain. If you are exploring terrain that is unfamiliar to you, isn’t it better to have signposts? You could find your own way, but who knows, it could take lifetimes. When you’re on unfamiliar terrain, it’s just sensible to take directions. On one level, that is all a guru is—a live road map. GPS: Guru Pathfinding System!
why there exists that infamous four-letter word.
Just to make things doubly easy for you, I thought I’d make it eight . . .
--This text refers to the hardcover