Question: How does a person become a Guru?

Sri Chinmoy: The word "Guru" means spiritual teacher. Kimo has become a teacher by practising Karate for fifteen years or so. He has acquired wisdom, knowledge and capacity from that particular field. In the spiritual life also, there is a kind of knowledge, an inner knowledge. One has to practise concentration, meditation, contemplation and a few other things in order to become a Guru.

When you go to school, you start your lessons from the kindergarten and then you complete your journey when you get your university degree. From kindergarten to go to elementary school, then to high school, then to college and then to university. In the spiritual life also, one has to start at the beginning. In my case, right from my childhood I took up the spiritual life. When I was two months old, my parents took me to a spiritual shrine, a very well-known spiritual place in India. Then when I was three years old, four, seven and eight years old, I was taken to another place. Unconsciously, I was going with my parents to a spiritual Master. When I was twelve years old, I became conscious of the inner life, the spiritual life. Then from twelve right up to thirty-two, I spent five hours, eight hours, ten hours, twelve hours a day in rigorous meditation. Now you know that when you study something, you spend an hour or two, or three or four hours, according to the necessity of your study. So spending all those hours in meditation is nothing unusual if one wants to achieve a high standard in the spiritual life.

When I was twelve years old, I said, "Now is my time to be conscious." And I started meditating one hour, two hours, three hours. But not for the sake of counting the hours. If you just count the hours, you are not doing real meditation. But if you can develop the inner capacity to meditate, your capacity becomes greater. When you take exercise every day, you gradually develop muscles. Then instead of five minutes, you can exercise for an hour. Then you develop your capacity to two, three hours. In the spiritual life also, we start with five minutes, then we increase it to ten minutes, fifteen minutes; then slowly it goes up to six hours, eight hours, nine hours a day. At that time, one has become an expert. One gets inner illumination; one becomes consciously one with the universal soul, with the Highest Absolute. At this point the person becomes a spiritual Master because he has achieved and received the inner illumination.

The spiritual Master at this point will not grow two horns or a tail. No, he is still a man. My spirituality is inside me, inside my heart, inside my consciousness. My disciples feel it, those who are my disciples.

Then when a spiritual Master meditates on his disciples, he offers them his Light, inner Peace, inner Bliss. He meditates on each individual and he spreads the inner Light. When he gets his own illumination, then and then only, can he offer his Light to others, to the seekers of the world.

Now you are apt to say, "How does he know he is illumined? " He knows on the strength of his absolute oneness with the Transcendental Truth. Those who are following the same path as he will see, inside him, the real light. If you are a doctor, you will have a very good idea of whether another person is a genuine doctor or not. Immediately you will ask him some questions and if he is not a doctor, he will be totally lost. In the spiritual life also, when a seeker comes to a spiritual Master, he asks a few questions, inner questions. If the Master is really spiritual, he will be able to answer them. If not, he will not be able to answer.

In the spiritual life, the Guru's answer is an immediate psychic response; it comes directly from the soul. It does not come from the mind. Many seekers come to me. Some of them don't ask questions, but others ask hundreds of questions during the hours they spend at the Centre. Sometimes these are questions that nobody has been able to answer for them, but when I answer their questions, they are convinced that this person has inner illumination.

It is not by answering questions alone, that you convince others that you are a spiritual Master. Thousands and millions of books, containing answers to questions, have been written on the spiritual life. From books you cannot get illumination. Books can give you inspiration. There are books about realisation, but you cannot get realisation from reading them. Inspiration you can get; realisation is inside you, inside everyone. But it has to be brought to the fore. And for that, a spiritual Master is needed. And when he has grown in inner illumination, it is the seeker who sees in his Master and feels in Him, the Illumination of the Supreme.