Michael Bowes is well known to us as an authentic and genuine and a very experienced yogi and a devotee of Sri Bhagavan Ramana. Internationally, he is well travelled and has been to India. He has visited various Ashrams and Gurus and Swamis in both the U.S. and abroad.Michael has an uncanny ability to see to the heart of the matter and his spiritual insights pierce through the veils of sentimentality and conceptual baggage. Michael is a long term member of the HarshaSatsangh community and his presence has been a gift.
Given below is the conclusion of a three part story from Michael about his visit to a Swami in India.
By Sri Michael Bowes
In the first two parts of this story, I related some events that occurred during my association with a certain Swami. In part one, I told about the coming of a starving dog named Ramu, and how his presence began to unravel the Swami’s fragile facade. I wrote of the Swami’s callous statements that he made after Govindan’s wife, Mother, offered her heartfelt thanks for a small gift that I had given her.
I had planned to reveal more of the shameful actions of this Swami who initially had seemed to be a blazing spiritual light. But I realized that I cannot.
There are many blind guides in all religions and sects, persons who misuse their followers either intentionally or unintentionally. And there are many persons of faith who should carefully consider where they place their trust. And that is the question – In whom or in what may we trust?
We can trust in the ONE who sent Ramu to help me. Before I met this particular Swami, I already knew that the true Guru is always radiating grace through a myriad of ways, always guiding us through all beings and events. There is one immortal Being, unborn and undying, always providing the necessary grace to help us to recognize our own true nature. That is the message that I want to convey.
The surest spiritual path for one and all is to awaken to the love and grace of the sadguru. The Sanskrit word “sadguru” means different things to different people. Sadguru is a combination of two Sanskrit words, “sat” and “guru”. The basic meaning of “sat” is existence. It is also translated as “truth” because there is no truth apart from what exists. Of course the word “guru” is usually not translated; but refers to a spiritual guide or teacher. Some persons interpret the word “sadguru” to mean the “true guru”. But I interpret the word to convey the fact that all existence (sat) is the guru.
That is my experience.
The longer I live this life, the more I see that nothing whatsoever exists except for love, and bliss, and unimaginable communion with the sadguru as it manifests as all that we encounter. The wise spiritual aspirant will trust in the ever present sadguru and will not blindly follow any other guide.
Once I had been associating with a certain spiritual group for quite some time. I had benefited immensely from my exposure to their guru. I had developed close friendships with some of the members of the group, including the president of the organization. Occasionally, some of the members of the group would try to convince me to take initiation from their guru.
One day, my friend, the president, also tried to convince me to take initiation. He was trying to impress me with the necessity of accepting a spiritual authority. He was implying that his guru was such an authority.
He asked me, “Who is the final authority?” Suddenly, without consideration, I answered, “Me”. “I am my own final authority.”
It goes without saying. I am responsible for my own life and my own decisions. If I want to consider making a choice between different spiritual paths or spiritual teachers, I then become the ultimate authority. So do you. It’s easy to see. The buck stops with our own self, which is the same as the self of all.
But we don’t ever really need to decide between one teacher or another. The surest, most effective means to truth and happiness is to invoke the true guru, the ever present guru, which is the same as one’s own self.
When one makes that connection then there’s no doubt about the path or the method. After receiving initiation from the sadguru no spiritual or philosophical questions about life arise because life is revealed as a mysterious, blissful and wonderful existence for which there is no explanation.
Then there is nothing to accept and nothing to reject. After the touch of the sadguru one becomes free by always residing in the presence of the sacred ONE and its fantastic and mysterious manifestation.