By Rula Al-Nasrawi
Diversity Editor

The Guru is a commonly sought-after figure in both the Eastern and Western worlds. His magnetic gaze and powerful words of wisdom have drawn people to him from across the globe.

Guruji Sri Vast, a South India mystic, has traveled around the world spreading his spiritual and ecological views. And although there is some skepticism of the guru phenomena, Sri Vast brings a whole new meaning to the spiritual sensation.

What exactly does being a guru entail?

Guru means being happy. Guru means teacher. One who can teach you how to transform yourself. One who teaches not what is happening outside, but what is happening inside of you.

What made you realize that this was for you? Tell me about yourself.

I honestly have nothing to tell about myself. Normally everyone has a lot of stories to tell about themselves, because they believe this is their story, this is who they are. But when you realize, then this story disappears from you and you become empty. When you are born you are born empty, but you are slowly raised, slowly domesticated. Trained to feel that you are not empty that you are full of information about yourself. But when you realize, then all of these stories disappear you see? So that is why I have no stories to tell about me.

What is your favorite thing about traveling around and meeting so many people?

People are always so busy, always running somewhere. I’m interested to know what exactly people are running after. I want to educate people in ecology, how to be natural and how to liberate oneself outside of social and religious conditions.

Can you explain the daily stress of the average college student?

Whatever you are doing if you are studying hard or anything, you are trying to find yourself through that act, whether you are cultivating or meditating or even smuggling drugs. But you may not be aware that when you are doing these things, you are just trying to find yourself. Since you are not aware of it you are doing so many things. This takes a life long time, and you may not find it at all. That is the stress. You want to become something, you want to change somehow, you’re running towards something. You don’t know what exactly you are running towards. So If you take a little time to figure out exactly who you are and to what you are doing and what your purpose is on this planet.

Can anyone be a guru?

Of course. It’s not a big deal. But a guru is not one you declare. Guru is a phenomena. Something that happens. It is the whole collective conscientiousness. At separate times, different gurus come. We had Jesus, we had Buddha, and we had Krishna. Different masters come to help the situation, to lead that period of time towards the light and towards love. Like a current in the water, that just spins and so many things spin around it. Guru is a quality, it’s an energy field. And people are attracted, pulled in that energy field. Even if you don’t want to you can’t resist it. It is like that.

What about the guru recognized in pop culture, is the real guru anything like that?

Normally, you have normal relationships that are based on love. And also all the normal relationships have a tradition of relating. Uncle, auntie, mother, father, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife. There is a traditional way of relating with these people. And also you have a structure in the relationship, and also you have a reason to relate. You have a reason to love, a reason to get attracted. But apart from all this is something called devotion, which has no tradition. Which has no structure. And which has no reason. And that’s it. So what’s happening with the guru and with those surrounding the guru is devotional unity. A devotional experience. That’s something profound, something different. And we can’t compare it with any other kind of experience. You are longing to be liberated. You are longing to be free. You are longing to be happy. You are longing to experience love. You are longing to be divine. Or we can put everything together; you are longing to be enlightened. And this longingness brings you in different ways. And on this path you may meet a guru, who may guide you towards that. Who may give you company in your path to liberation. That is a guru. It’s not about how the guru looks like. It’s all about how he is inside.

How can you explain the anxieties that women feel?

It is because you are approached as a girl. You are not a girl. And he is not a boy either. A girl is a trained pattern, a social pattern. From childhood, you are trained to behave according to the pattern of ‘girl’. So by the time you are born till you die, you are behaving like a girl. And you believe you are a unique person. You are a very unique person. But you are not unique in a way. You behave like anyone else. You dress like a girl. You behave like a girl. And you will feel like a girl. But what about you? When are you going to feel like you?

So you have pressure to be a girl and the whole society has some idea about what a girl is. And there are people approaching you through this idea of girl. So in a way they are not communicating with you, they are communicating with this girl. And at the same time, you are also not living as you; you are trying to live as a girl. So no one is able to communicate with you, and you are not able to live your life either. Something is missing. So this makes you feel disappointed. You are not complete, you are not total. You are constantly acting. And you may buy a pink watch because you learned that pink is the color for girls. So then you say the square, big, black watch is made for the boy. But do you think the time is different? So the whole idea of ‘girl’ is given to you, so you are not inside of you. You are inside but you are not experiencing who you are. This gives you some kind of sadness. This also goes for the boys.

So what do we do?

Follow your patterns. Most of the time, your way of dressing, your consumption, your lifestyle, your verbal communication, you are trying to tell something about you. And society understands you through this information. And most of the time this information and who you truly are is not the same. It’s contradicting. So come closer to yourself, and life will become different. Because this life is only one time, it’s not going to come back. And life is not waiting for you. It’s like a conveyor belt, it just keeps on running. You have to celebrate your own existence.

What do you think about organized religion?

Every –ism is trying to tell something to you. And every religion is trying to tell something to you. It’s very important to see through all the philosophies, through all the religions, you are trying to understand what God is. In the name of God, you are trying to understand who are. Again talking about consumerism itself, people are not interested in consuming; people are interested in being happy. They believe by consuming, they will be happy. That means naturally they are not happy. This is a conditional happiness. When he is not able to get what he wants he is not happy. When a person transforms, his happiness becomes unconditional. It doesn’t matter what is happening around him. Transformation to self realization is the key. You are divine. I believe that everything is divine. But we never experience ourselves as divine. You have created a picture and you develop an identity about yourself. Through this identity you are approaching me. So I become a stranger to you. If you don’t have this identity, there is no you and there is no me. So we both become one. If you remove all the barriers you have created around you, the whole existence becomes one. When you look at me, you are not looking at me. You are looking at yourself. Then you will look at a tree but you are not looking at a tree, you are looking at yourself. Everything will become you. You will expand your experiences. So this enlightenment will bring you to this state. Life is much more. Life is so much to experience.