Question: I am considering mantra initiation to deepen my spiritual practice. What is the benefit of committing myself to one Guru, when there are so many valid teachings in the world, so many paths to God?

Answer: Yes, there are so many boats. I would like to take all the boats to cross the ocean. All are nice boats, no? Do you put one foot in one boat, another foot in another boat, and hang everywhere? All are nice boats, no? They are all nice boats, but you put yourself in one boat. And don’t criticize the other fellow who takes another boat. Don’t say, “Come into my boat, this is the only one that crosses the ocean.” No. Even though all the paths are good, we should take one path. Choose your path. Before you choose, you can date the paths. Like you date people. Until you find a permanent one. But please, have the date that is without any pits in it. See? You know dates have pits inside them? So, make sure that your date has no pit in it  so that you won’t fall into it.

Mantra initiation is good. You say, “Committing myself to one guru.” There is no “one guru,” there’s only one Guru. Guru is only one, always but may manifest as many people the Guru takes many  forms and names, like God. And the Guru can come in one form and tell you something. The Guru, the same Guru then comes in another form and tells you something. But they don’t differ normally. There is one sugar, many candies. One chocolate; it doesn’t matter if it is in Haagen-Daz ice cream, or another form of chocolate.

The Guru is only one, the one who talks from the heart. We all have the same conscience. Expressions may vary, but the essence is the same. So, it doesn’t matter: any Guru that feels comfortable to you, appeals to you, then you take that name. Follow the practice, and you don’t have to condemn the other Gurus. They are all in different forms and no other Guru will be saying, “Oh, you didn’t follow me. You took somebody else as your Guru.” If your Guru says that, he is not a Guru at all. A real Guru will appreciate any Guru that you’d like to take. Because, he’s not monopolizing anything. He thinks of your benefit, your happiness.

If I have a restaurant, should I ask you only to come to my restaurant to eat? If you say, “Oh, I’d like to go to the other restaurant.” Then I would reply, “Go, enjoy your food there.” There’s nothing wrong in it, because the source is the same. So, it is not that you find one name, or form, or one Guru. No. Even though you begin with one Guru, doesn’t mean that you are bound by that Guru. No Guru ever binds you. If any Guru says, “You should be only my disciple. If you go anywhere else I’ll curse you.” Then he is not a Guru at all. You are approaching a Guru to have your freedom. If the Guru himself or herself binds you, it is not the gurudom. So, don’t worry. Take one, pick one, do it, practice. Appreciate all other Gurus also.

Swami Satchidananda

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