Most of us will readily accept and acknowledge that we often get ‘stuck’ at some waypoint in our lives. The guidance of a mentor or guide in these instances has the potential to greatly reduce the life energy that we may expend in getting ‘unstuck’ from our situation. The quality of the guidance that we receive in these moments can even mean the difference between (spiritual) ‘life’ and ‘death’.
My first year working at NASA, I was fortunate enough to find a guide who was willing to train and mentor me. These weren’t just engineering lessons, mind you. They were career and life lessons, inside and outside of the work environment. Over the years, the lessons that I learnt from him served me well, and encouraged me to be open to training and mentoring those who were willing to ask and listen. Now that I look back, I am glad that I did not listen to the ‘work whispers’ about him being a ‘tough guy who expects a lot from his students’ and so on. I am glad that I chose to evaluate whether he was the right guide for me from my own experience with him. After my graduate school thesis advisor, he was the second person who I trusted with my professional life and career guidance.
So, what was it that made my relationship with these guides in my life stand out from acquaintances and friends? They were willing to help when asked, without any hesitation or even a hint of a negative attitude. They showed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, by their actions, that they had my best interest at heart. They did not ask me to serve them – they were always serving me. They wanted me to accomplish bigger and better things than they had accomplished. They were willing to share some of their life stories, about moments when they themselves were ‘stuck’, and how their guides helped them to get past those roadblocks. They opened their hearts and homes, their families and friends to me, and we became family.
This is not to say that a good guide, in order to provide great guidance to you, needs to meet ALL of the above criteria – although, it does not hurt if you develop that special relationship with them. One thing is for sure. In order for us to accept guidance that we will actually act upon, the guide has to convey that they have our best interest at heart. Their highest, an perhps only ‘agenda’, is for us to succeed and not remain ‘stuck’. They do not want to necessarily hold our hand all the time, although they are willing to do even that if that is what it will take for us to develop trust in their guidance.
The great guides have walked the path, are present when called upon, point the way when asked, give us the tools to remove that which blocks our progress, and serve us with a loving heart so deep that it takes our breath away…
Some of us may question whether we even need an ‘external’ guide in our lives. This happens because some of us may have been led astray or been caused egregious harm by a guide that met seemed qualified to provide good guidance. Our heart and spirit refuses to ‘trust’ the external, and so we retreat to the internal guide. Our own ‘inner compass’. Yes, there are some among us who have that inner strength and reservoir of spiritual energy to be able to get ‘unstuck’ by themselves, to carry their own map as they climb the mountain. And I say, more spiritual power to them. For me, I am the Edmund Hillary who would not dream of climbing the mountain for the first time without my trusted Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay. I submit my welfare and well-being into the sherpa’s hands.
How about you? Are you ‘going it alone’, relying purely on ‘inner guidance’? Or do you have an ‘external’ guide – or maybe even a team of them – who walk the path with you? How did you find your guide(s)? What criteria did you use to determine that they were the best guide(s) for you? Have you ever been disappointed in a guide that you chose and then switched to different one? How did that change your life and what did you learn in the process?
In this month of July 2016, we have been talking about freedom in our weekly #SpiritChat conversations on twitter. One could ask – how does our reliance on a guide impact our ‘spirit of freedom’? Join us Sunday morning, and share some of your guidance with us.
P.S. For more about the student/teacher/Guide/Guru ‘principle’ in Indian culture, do see this Wikipedia article about the Guru Purnima Festival, which falls on July 18th/19th this year… Also see, Celebrating the Guru (Guide) in Vedic Tradition. Namaste.