In my books, The Unknown Mother and Your True Voice, there are three chapters dealing specifically with the power of our words. In those chapters, what I refer to as the 3rd Gate (Letters), 4th Gate (Words), and 5th Gate (Storytelling) of Sound, I shared many practices about empowering our words, reclaiming definitions, and creating meanings that resonate with and empower us. 

There are no two words quite as sticky with an equal potential to transform our lives as God and Guru.

On God

God is a very ancient English word that summons up images of an old man with a beard doling out judgment for good and bad behavior. Many people declare without hesitation, “I don’t believe in God”. And why should they, if their idea of God is as small as an aged man floating in the clouds or even something so small as to represent only certain people.

But I have to laugh when people say they don’t believe in God. Just take a good, hard look at what obsesses you. You may very well find your God there. And just like God is the masterful creator of the Universe, so too are your thoughts about God…or Guru…the filters of your perceptions.

God is, in a way, whatever one focuses upon. If your thoughts revolve around money, money is your God. It is either benevolent or punishing, grace-filled or wrathful. You either love your God or loathe your God, but the power it has is the power you’ve given it. And by your focus, so you design your experience of life.

If your thoughts revolve around health, then health becomes your God. If you suffer an illness, God may seem cruel and unjust. When your health is good, God seems loving and forgiving. Every belief you hold about the expansive topic of health is a part of your God and reality, and there your power is either put to good use or trapped, depending upon your focus.

On Guru

For Western minds, the concept of guru isn’t quite as old as God, but there’s an equal amount of misunderstanding surrounding this term. For some even among my friends, a guru is nothing more than a narcissistic sociopath feeding on the vulnerable. For others, a guru is an infallible being worthy of absolute and unquestioning devotion. Both of these go so far beyond the actual meaning of the word.

These two concepts, God and Guru, store our energy and the power of our belief within them, as do all words. It is because they are so very charged that we owe it to ourselves to work with them to clean them up.

Save yourself the baby when you toss the bathwater. If you object to organized religion, have your beef with that, not the word “God” and man’s adulteration of what s/he represents. If you object to “guru worship” and those that blindly follow fallible beings or those who victimize fragile minds, have your beef with that, not with the word “guru” itself.

If we do otherwise, we are likely to automatically discount, ignore, or even completely fail to see what is right in front of us when it could be to our benefit.

Both & Neither

Neither God nor Guru are any of these things the minds concocts. God and Guru have much less to do with being human and everything to do with what is beyond our understanding. These two terms can point us to a much bigger truth. But terms will be terms, and definitions, generally agreed upon, will be necessary for effective communication. Problem is, humans don’t really communicate from generally agreed upon definitions. Instead, we argue from highly emotional and egoic connotations. God becomes that thing we grew up with that was always judging us or making us fearful of our mistakes and missteps. Guru remains nothing more than that cult-like character in a exposing documentary who victimized followers.

We need to purify both symbols, God and Guru, in order to realize the power within them for ourselves and the limitless grace either of them has the potential to bring into our lives when we do. God can simply be “divine power”. Guru can simply be “teacher”. Remove from these words the adulterations and divisions that arise from religions and other belief structures and you clear a path towards the experience of exhaltation.

In Sanskrit, Gu represents “darkness” and “ru” means “that which dispels”. So a guru dispels ignorance and illusion. Keeping it that simple, who wouldn’t want to find a truthworthy guru to follow? Guru is not the dirty word it has become in pop culture.

Do you really want to carry around a concept tainted by your wounds, traumas, imaginings, resentments and prejudices? Or would you rather utilize something in its purest, pristine form that gives you access to something beyond the confines of human minds?

As For Me…

I relate quite well to the concept of guru, having been a school teacher long before I ever became a yoga teacher. I don’t follow any one particular guru but I do not hesitate to take inspiration and wisdom from anyone when it is given, whether they bear the label guru or not. I don’t really care how they are living or have lived. If it dispels my own darkness, it serves. Frankly, I rely on the gifts that these sages leave for us. I am my own guru, yes; I blindly follow no one and seek my own experience, as we all should. But I am not quite so arrogant as to think I don’t need the experience and grace of those who have mastered what I have not.

As for God, I don’t know what God is. But I know it is a force with which I have an enduring and benevolent relationship. It wasn’t always that way for me. I had to do the work of deconditioning my mind of the symbol first. And I am so glad I was able, because that transformed symbol is now my entry point into states of deep bliss, penetrating ecstasy, and true faith.

Cleanse these two terms for yourself as a gift to yourself. It is not only liberating, it is life-changing.