What Is A Guru?
Much of my writing on Medium.com, explores the role of mentors, guides, consultants, experts, and gurus in business, strategic thinking, and spirituality. Much of my research here is based on Harrison’s Applied Game Theory (HAGT), a system I created for helping my life coaching clients make wiser decisions in group interactions.
It might be helpful before we explore how to find a mentor, guide, or guru to begin with a short introduction to the basics of HAGT. Below is an article (a 6-minute read) as well as a more in-depth video embedded in the article. Both were created so they would be understood by a 12-year-old.
The Best Introduction to Game Theory, Simple and Easy to Understand — Written for a 12-Year-Old
Q. Lewis, what is the meaning of game theory?
All of us need mentors, coaches, and guides in life. Without these, we are likely to make poor choices as well as being less EEPPSA (effective, efficient, precise, productive, and self-awareness). One type of guide is the guru. Guru is a Sanskrit term for a “teacher, guide, master, or expert” of certain knowledge or field. In modern usage, especially in the West, a guru is more than a teacher. In Sanskrit, guru means literally dispeller of darkness.
Traditionally, especially in a religious environment the guru is a reverential figure to the disciple (or chela in Sanskrit) or student, with the guru serving as a “counselor, who helps mold values, shares experiential knowledge as much as literal knowledge, an exemplar in life, an inspirational source and who helps in the spiritual evolution of a student”. Often when a student begins to go below the superficial in any domain of knowledge it is soon understood that without the verbal explanation of a qualified teacher, the guru, these deeper ideas cannot be easily understood.
So, as you can see, The guru is more than someone who teaches a specific type of knowledge. It includes in its scope someone who is also a “counselor, a sort of parent of mind and soul, who helps mold values and experiential knowledge as much as specific knowledge, an exemplar in life, an inspirational source and who reveals the meaning of life.”
The oldest references to the concept of the guru are found in the earliest Vedic texts of Hinduism but it is no longer considered a Hindu term since there are media Gurus and business gurus, as well, etc.
The tradition of the guru is also found in many different religious and spiritual traditions.
In the 1960s and 1970, many Indian spiritual gurus came to America and Europe. In this situation, the guru is considered a figure to worship and whose instructions should never be violated.
Of course as with any religious tradition including “guru paths” many gurus have allegedly exploited their followers’ naiveté. In that sense, many Christian Evangelists are no different than some Indian gurus.
As a noun, the word “guru” means the imparter of knowledge. As an adjective, it means ‘heavy,’ or ‘weighty,’ in the sense of “heavy with knowledge,” heavy with spiritual wisdom, “heavy with spiritual weight,” “heavy with the good qualities of scriptures and realization,” or “heavy with a wealth of knowledge.” The word has its roots in the Sanskrit gri (to invoke, or to praise), and may have a connection to the word gur, meaning ‘to raise, lift up, or to make an effort’. In my own work, a number of articles have referred to me as the “Applied Game Theory guru”, though I would never describe myself in that way.
The word guru was first used in the West to refer to a wise teacher who was not part of established religion. Some people in Europe and the USA looked to spiritual guides and gurus from India and other countries. Gurus from many denominations traveled to Western Europe and the US and established followings.
In particular, during the 1960s and 1970s, many gurus acquired groups of young followers in Western Europe and the USA. One factor, albeit a small one, came about due to the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1965 which permitted Asian gurus entrance to the USA. Other important causes, were the post-war cross-cultural mobility and the general dissatisfaction of many young people with established Western values. Of course, there was also the surge of all things ‘Eastern’ that was magnified by the Beatles embracing many cultural elements from India and their trip along with other Rock n’ Roll stars to visit gurus in India.
In the 1970s young people including hippies (and myself) turned to gurus because they found that drugs had opened for them the existence of the transcendental or because they wanted to get high without drugs. Some counter-culturalists and political activists became worn out or disillusioned of the possibilities to change society through political means, and as an alternative turned to spiritual means for gaining self-awareness.
Though they are not as predominant now as they were, the guru culture was part of a movement that expanded the importance of self-improvement and personal development in our lives.
Author: Lewis Harrison is an Independent Scholar with a passion for knowledge, personal development, self-improvement, and problem-solving. He is the creator of Harrison’s Applied Game Theory. His website is AskLewis.com
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