We are told that all of us are both teachers and students of the Dharma. We experience times in life when we have much insight to share and alternatively when we have many questions to ask. Both roles exhibit inherent wisdom.
This Thursday, I would like to introduce a practice that can take us more fully into our roles as teachers and students. The practice—called “Guru Hat”—comes from an exercise I learned this summer at a youth retreat at the Lama Foundation. During the retreat, different people would wear the “guru hat” for a day. During that time, people could ask their deepest questions and the “guru” would answer with as much integrity (and concision) as possible. The idea is to awaken us to our deepest inquiries and our natural abilities of wise discernment.
This Thursday, after meditation, we’ll split into small groups to practice guru hat. Each person will have the opportunity to serve as student and teacher. Both roles will deepen our sense of the guru.
Different traditions offer various interpretations of the “guru.” Some provide an image of an experienced practitioner who can guide students along the path. Others suggest a person with extraordinary powers who can know the inner recesses of another’s mind and life path, and compassionately guide their spiritual growth. Still others speak of a disembodied force that serves as a source of love and inspiration. There are, of course, even more interpretations.
The idea of a guru is fairly foreign to me. Like many of us, I have been fortunate to meet plenty of learned teachers and high beings, and have gained much from standing in their presence or receiving their teachings. However, I have yet to meet an individual who speaks so personally to me that I could comfortably identify them as my guru. Following some Buddhist teachings, then, I have come to see the “guru” as something inside of me that keeps bringing me back to what is most real and important in life. Ironically, this emerges most palpably in conversation with others. When I converse most authentically with another person, I touch wisdom that is otherwise inaccessible.
Wednesdays, September 11 – November 20, 2013. Fearless Compassion: Companioning Others in Aging, Illness, Dying and Grief
Sunday, September 15, 2013. Coming Home to Ourselves: A Day of Practice
Mondays, September 16 – November 18, 2013. Smiling like a Buddha: A Ten-Session Mindfulness Meditation Class
Saturday, September 28, 2013. Mindful Families Feast.
Friday, October 4 – Sunday, October 6, 2013. Settling Into Silence: Still Water Practice Retreat