We know the person by many names: A Hindu or Sikh religious teacher; spiritual leader; influential expert; maharishi; sage. Guru. The guru’s the expert we always go to, the one in our circle of contacts, that knows just about everything (certainly more than most) about a certain subject.
A guru is often easily observed. When he or she speaks, everyone else pauses…even if they’re in another side discussion…to hear what is said. Why? Because the guru’s not just one-of-the-group that knows ‘a bit more’ than the rest. No, it’s because she is a couple levels above everyone else and knows a lot more.
…the guru’s not just one that knows ‘a bit more’ than the rest. No, it’s because the guru is –levels- above everyone else and knows a lot more.
Having achieved this level of knowledge relative to a particular group at hand (there’re also guru’s gurus, so it’s always ‘relative’), the guru needs to be cautious of their interactions.
For instance, the other day I was with a group of photographers. Most of us were somewhat above average if only by the nature of equipment we used. One, was a professional who has been getting paid for his skills for decades.
At one point, one of the group commented about the process he used for capturing his images. The guru jumped up and—in humored mocking manner—chastised him for doing that. No! No! You should always do it…[this way].
The problem was, the individual on the receiving end only knew of the terms being discussed, not what the value behind them was. The ‘mandate’ to do something a certain way was completely lost on him. To help him appreciate what the importance was, I gave him a few simple examples to illustrate.
It was a good learning experience for me. I was in the right position to observe, at the right time, and paying attention.
Herein lies one of the hazards of being the guru: You must be sensitive to the different levels of knowledge of the people around you. Ignoring the uninformed views of ‘lesser people’ can come across as arrogance, being out of touch, of being…a prima donna. None of which are ideal nor, do I suspect in most cases, intended.
There are folks following you, even as you followed your own gurus in years past.
So, the short morale of the story: Enjoy being a guru, if that is what you are for the moment. The relationship is precious, easily harmed, rarely regained. Just always remember: There are folks following you, even as you followed your own gurus in years past.
Note: No egos or feelings were harmed in the making of this article:).