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Attaining Enlightenment In The Absence of a Yoga Guru

Updated on December 26, 2015

Yoga Enlightenment

The concept of enlightenment is the highest form of benefit that one can experience with the practice of yoga. It is also for this same reason why many practice yoga, while only a few can actually enjoy the benefits of enlightenment. But in order for that to happen, one must undergo a lot of preceding stages that prepare the physical, mental, and spiritual body for this process of enlightenment. This phase can be a bit challenging, which leaves many to question whether attaining enlightenment in the absence of a yoga guru is even possible.

The ability to overcome that challenge and take it up on your own is what separates you from all other yogis who have failed in their practice. Is it possible to achieve this end goal in yoga without the guiding hand of a guru? More of these questions will be answered later on as you read along.

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Yoga Guru Defined

To better understanding why and how enlightenment is impacted by the absence or presence of a yoga guru, it is important to first begin by gaining an in-depth knowledge of what a guru basically does. As explained by ancient yoga texts, a guru or “master” is one of the most powerful forces in a yogi’s life, especially a life dedicated to this ancient form of healing.

All throughout history, several yoga gurus have emerged, which has led many to realize the important relationship developed between the yoga and the disciple. In modern day setting, it is represented by the teacher-student relationship. One is more knowledgeable about a given field, while the other serves as the apprentice with whom the guru or teacher’s knowledge are passed on to. To be specific, that knowledge is gained through years of experience practicing this art form and the student must therefore possess the same dedication to ensure that this process of learning is successful.

The guru/disciple relationship in yoga goes further beyond the imparting of knowledge; instead, this is only what happens at the external core. Both individuals have actually established a deep spiritual relationship that ties them together. And knowing the mind-body-spirit integration evident in yoga, this was important in ensuring that the succeeding steps of your practice are a fulfilled.

The Important Role That a Yoga Guru Plays

A yoga guru is not just a teacher, despite the many similarities with its role. The mediating presence of a yoga guru is vital when you are trying to impart knowledge through this method of discipleship. But teaching is not enough since some students often have spiritual enemies present inside their own bodies that repulse all of the knowledge or learning that is being imparted to them. A yoga guru would therefore work on eliminating those spiritual enemies, which is done by humbling yourself. In the process, you are destroying your character and personality such that one is able to easily accept that knowledge.

Going back in history to the times of Eastern mysticism, practicing humility is treated with utmost importance. In fact, this is the most important step towards a successful guru/disciple relationship. When you strip one off of its individual identity, you are more receptive to knowledge that is being taught. In addition, selfless thoughts and acts is the most basic foundation if one is to achieve enlightenment through yoga.

Enlightenment Raja Yoga Asana Meditation Patanjali Ahimsa 59

Introduction to Yoga Discipleship

Aiming for Higher Spiritual Knowledge

A guru is the guiding hand that leads a student or yoga practitioner towards the enlightenment. But as much as the guru can only intervene from an external standpoint, it is still in you (the student) to practice whatever is taught. An important prerequisite to enlightenment is attaining a higher state of awareness.

The role of gurus is important at the initial phase of the practice and they instill the need for independence such that the student or disciple can aim for higher spiritual knowledge. Going back to the idea of practicing humility, this is the next stage in that process.

Even gurus themselves like the idea of their students becoming independent. They are only meant to show you the way, but it is still the student that will take that path. You will learn more below about what qualities you need to develop in order to achieve enlightenment without a guru.

Bhakti Yoga for Spiritual Enlightenment - Devotional Bhajan

Is It Possible To Achieve Enlightenment Without a Guru?

This is without a doubt possible. As long as the disciple has learned whatever knowledge the guru has imparted and created a higher state of inner consciousness, then nothing holds you back when it comes to achieving the enlightenment that is your end goal in yoga.

In order for this happen, first the disciple must take the life of the guru as an example. You must strive to develop the same qualities that the guru has and use the spiritual knowledge to achieve your ultimate purpose. The only way for you to attain true wisdom and virtue is when you are free of vice and ignorance. Specific qualities that you must aim for include mercy, tolerance, truthfulness, charity, austerity, and peace. And the most important quality of all is knowing how to go deep inside yourself to realize and fulfill your desires, without looking for an external object or engaging in external activities to fulfill that.

New Perspective on the Role of Gurus

With the modern times, the way people view the guru/disciple relationship has also changed immensely. This process is dynamic and has therefore undergone major transformations such that the role that gurus play is viewed differently. Essentially, a guru is the guiding hand that leads you toward the kind of path that you need to take. But there is less dependency with this relationship setup today such that both are working together in making the process of imparting knowledge much more efficient.

There is more focus on the guru and disciple being made of separate spirituality. Instead of glorifying the guru, the new concept of this relationship is focused on allowing the student to take responsibility for their own matrix of energy. Hence, the students or disciples become leaders on their own. This is an important trait in order for one to become self-sufficient and pave their own path towards enlightenment.

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Submit a Comment

  • Greenheart profile image

    Greenheart 7 years ago from Cambridge

    Hi Theresa.

    Thanks for this inspiring hub.

    You may be interested in my Guru,Adi Da.

    He is here for "all beings" and has touched the heart of

    many over many years.

    He did his sadhana in the 60's with great masters and began to teach in 1972.

    Have a look at my hub.


  • Katrina Ariel profile image

    Katrina Ariel 8 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

    Nice hub. Having a teacher you can trust is vital in a quest of finding illumination. At the same time, to quote Ram Das, "If you know how to listen, everyone is the guru." There are so many paths to enlightenment, and so many experiences of illumination.