The Guru-Disciple Relationship

By Swami Chaitanya Keerti, Osho Rajyoga Meditation Centre, New Delhi., Spirituality

Once Osho was asked: What is the guru-disciple relationship?

In his discourses compiled in The Great Challenge, Osho replied:
First of all, a guru is not a teacher; a guru is a person who has attained a religious mode of living. Religion is not information, it cannot be taught because religion is a way of living. The very presence of the guru is a communion. And to one living in contact with him, something is communicated — though not through words. The relationship is so intimate that it is less like teacher and pupil and more like lover and beloved.

The guru must himself be enlightened, he must have ‘attained’, because one cannot communicate that which one has not realised. Religious experience can be communicated only when it is first hand. A teacher need not be self-realised, but a guru must be. A teacher can give second hand information from scriptures or traditions, but a guru cannot. A guru is a person who has realised truth. Now he is the original source; he himself has encountered reality, he is face to face with it. And the disciple comes in contact with a first hand knowledge because whatsoever is said or communicated to him by the guru is on his own authority.

Secondly, a guru is not aware of his guruship; he cannot be. A guru cannot claim that he is a guru – there is no claim like that. A person can only know whether or not he has fulfilled the condition of egolessness; otherwise he cannot encounter truth. Truth is encountered only when the ego is absolutely absent. I always say that in religion, in spirituality, only disciples exist – because the guru is not present; he is only a presence. His very non-claiming, non-egoistic, non-teaching attitude, and his living the truth, are the communion. So a person who claims to be a guru is only a teacher, he is not a guru.

There is no word in English to translate the word guru because the relationship between guru and disciple is basically Eastern. No such relationship has ever existed in Western culture and tradition, so no one in the West can understand what a guru is. At the most they can understand what a teacher is.

The relationship between guru and disciple is so intimate… it is like love. The reverence that is felt is like love, but with one difference: love is parallel, and reverence is for one who is above, one who is higher. Love creates friendship because the lover and the loved one are on the same level. Reverence too is a kind of love but with a great difference: it is not on the same level; one person is higher. If there is a loving intimacy with the higher personality, the halo of reverence is created around a guru. But it is neither expected, nor demanded.

Only disciples exist – because they choose to be disciples. A guru does not choose, he acts. His teaching and his living are two aspects of a single existence. His very sitting, standing, walking, his talking, his silence — everything is an indication. Something happens through the guru’s very existence and the disciple always has to be ready to receive it. A disciple means one who has an open mind, a receptive mind so he is not just learning but receiving. That is why trust is a basic component of being a disciple.

The relationship between the disciple and the guru is a relationship of intimate trust. That doesn’t mean blind faith, because the guru never expects you to believe in him. But the very nature of the unknown is such that you cannot go a single step further without trust. Trust is required of the disciple because he will not be able to take a single step into the unknown without trusting the guru. The unknown is dark, the field is uncharted – it is not bliss, it is not the ultimate — and the guru is always saying, “Jump into it! Do it!” But before you can jump, trust is needed or you will not jump. And knowledge can only come through a jump.

Login form