BE YOUR OWN GURU
(After all…who was the Buddha’s Buddha?)
By: Mike Dailey

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it,
or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with
your own reason and your own common sense."
~Buddha

Gu” means darkness and “Ru means remover. So you must become the remover of darkness in your life. In other words, you become your own “Gu-Ru”. But how does one accomplish that? The first step is self-awareness. This can be tricky, because we all have a biased blind Spot. We don’t just see things as they are, but we see them as “we are” or how we would like them to be. Looking back, we see that our memories are more like an impressionist painting¾with our own subjective interpretation¾ than like a photograph, showing life in its natural light. And as our imagined future becomes our current reality, we realize we “feel” completely different about it than we imagined we would. Quite an illusory world we live in, isn’t it? So what are we to do? First you must:

Honor Your Own Truth

No one has all the answers. According to a recent survey, there are over two hundred fifty distinct types of psychotherapies. That doesn’t include holistic, faith based, and many 12-step programs. Health care professionals suggest that at least one in every four adults would qualify for a diagnosis of a mood or anxiety disorder as described in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health) guidebook, and all of them offer their own description of what a healthy, balanced and whole human being should look like. Wow, are we that screwed up?

Whose life is this anyway? We have all been programmed not to honor our own inner-truth. Don’t get me wrong, listening to others experience, guidance and advice, even if you don’t agree with it, is always a good thing to do. However, we should always listen to that still small voice inside of us. When we start to let our life’s patterns become our teacher, therapist, and our “Buddha”, then we start to become our own GuRu ( or darkness remover). Remember: At the center of your being you have the answers to your life’s problems. We must uncover, recover and then discover who we are and what we really want. Then you are ready to….

Say Yes To Life

First of all, being alive is enough. We don’t need a long list of accomplishments to justify our lives. Creating and sustaining supportive, empowering and loving relationships from friends and family becomes our key to being fully alive. When we are our own GuRu, we begin to realize that life is a celebration, so never take for granted, not for one minute, the valuable time you are experiencing “right now.” So always be thankful and humble. Also, saying yes to life is about understanding loss, grief and the impermanence of our very existence as merely opposites. Without healthy grief, there’s only regret, and that’s the troubled road to depression. Without worry, we wouldn’t realize the need to lighten up and put our busy lives back into perspective. This can all sound so sad and depressing. But it’s really about learning to embrace life more fully, each and every day.

When we start to understand and accept these opposites as the dichotomy of life, then we can learn to “celebrate life”, allowing us to have a more passionate engagement in the various stages of our life’s journey. But our emotional programming leads us to believe that we have to always escape these thoughts and emotions. The Buddha’s first saying is “All life is Sorrowful”. Joseph Campbell ?the late professor of mythology and comparative religions? in his PBS interview Power of The Myth , with Bill Moyers, refers to the Buddha saying as the “Joyful Participation in Life’s Sorrows.” Consequently, being our own GuRu is not about finding nirvana, bliss, living in the now or escape from the self or ego. Rather, it’s about re-creating and re-weaving our new life symmetry.

Life Symmetry

Life symmetry is about finding the balances. So what does symmetry mean? (American Heritage Dictionary) Noun: Balanced proportion; the property of remaining resilient under the force of change; beauty as a result of a harmonious arrangement. So the symmetry of your life is where you begin to integrate and learn from your life experiences. In other words, our life becomes our most effective therapist.

Being your own GuRu is becoming mindful (or aware) of the “patterns” of your life, finding out what works and what doesn’t¾ then diligently striving for balance. I call this “Living From Your Center”. However, most of us have developed life symmetries based on escapes. They can take the form of addictions (drugs, alcohol, food, sex etc.) and a myriad of compulsions, worry, perfectionism, crisis lifestyles, essentially any aspect of our life that has become toxic and out of balance. But you say, “nobody’s perfect!” That’s right… Perfection lacks personality, and boy do I have a lot of personality. Even God may not be perfect. The late comedian George Carlin once quipped that “God can’t be perfect; everything he makes dies.” Therefore, what we’re really trying to develop is the “art of living”, not the cultivation of escapes. Remember the Buddha’s last words: “Subject to change are all things, so strive on with Diligence.” Then as we strive on we become aware that life is short or impermanent.

Impermanence

Life is a series of changes and unforeseen events; and life comes at ya fast! As we be- come mindful of this swift current of change we call our life, we start letting our mo-
ment by moment experiences teach us what we need to learn in order to live a life that matters, not taking for granted one single day. Remember: this is not practice for some future life, “out there”. Rather, it’s about your inner life, right here and now. And now that we are on the path of becoming our own GuRu, we can begin to discover who we are and what we really want. We’ve all heard the ole familiar saying: “This too shall pass”.

In reality, every phase of our life, from birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and hopefully a healthy old age, changes roles and identities. Looking back, we realize that as we pass through each of these phases, many of the people, places, circumstances and community of friends (our life symmetry) quite simply changes. Some may leave because of death or other changes in their own lives. But regardless of where this energy of change flows from, we are all caught on this ever-churning tide of impermanence. This could be very depressing were it not for learning to have a passionate engagement in each phase of our life. Therefore, we have to wake up, smell the roses and come out of our comfort zone. In retrospect we begin to realize we are constantly evolving in our personalities and our sense of self. Even our perceptions of reality changes as our emotions and ego become more balanced through our awareness of impermance. Consequently, we and everyone else around us are in a state of flux or change.

Awaken The Buddha Within You

“Bodhi” (from which the word Buddha derives) literally means to awaken. Once you begin to remove the veil of illusion (darkness) that has been masquerading as happiness in your life, and begin living from your center, then you are ready to awaken the Buddha within you. We no longer need the cultivation of escapes to cope with the anxieties disappointments of this life. With the awareness that life is short (or impermanent) we can lighten up, not take ourselves
and others “personalities” so seriously, then put our own life back into perspective, perhaps for the first time.

The life you are living now is your most effective therapist (or GuRu). When we see the fabric of our life symmetry as a quilt that we have been weaving throughout our life, then we can create a new design, one that more closely resembles our inner-life, which is a meandering vortex that leads down to our “true selves”, untouched by trauma or escapes. This is when we begin to live from our center, (our Buddha) and re-connect with our “essential self.” The roles we choose to play are the ones that create more love and harmony, rather than the drama trauma we see every day. This is a life that matters. And it is “your” life. This is a true illumination or awakening. We realize this as our epiphany moment. When the Buddha had his illumination he is recorded as saying “I am awake.” He was then able to remove the darkness from his own life. And you, too, can accomplish this.

Author's Bio: 

Micheal Dailey is a veteran and employee of Bay Pines Veterans Hospital in St. Petesburg Fl. He is a recovery advocate, committed to the transformational journey of recovery and consiousness growth