“Unconditioned by time. Isvara is the teacher of even the most ancient teachers.”

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Sa Purvesam Api Guruh Kalenanavacchedat

Sah: He | Purvesam: of the ancients | Api: even | Guruh: teacher | Kalena: by time | Anavacchedat: unconditioned, uncut from. 

According to Merriam Webster dictionary, the word teach, which is a transitive verb–meaning that it is something that is done to something or to someone–is defined in the following ways:

“Definition of teach

1a: to cause to know something; taught them a trade b: to cause to know how; is teaching me to drive c: to accustom to some action or attitude; teach students to think for themselves d: to cause to know the disagreeable consequences of some action; I’ll teach you to come home late 2: to guide the studies of 3: to impart the knowledge of; teach algebra 4a: to instruct by precept, example, or experience b: to make known and accepted; experience teaches us our limitations 5: to conduct instruction regularly in; teach school.”

The intransitive version of the word–meaning that it only involves action that is taken by a subject–is the word teacher, or Guruh/guru, which, according to this same dictionary, is:

“Definition of teacher

1: one that teaches; especiallyone whose occupation is to instruct.”

A teacher, therefore, is 1) someone or something who devotes themselves to the task of helping others to gain knowledge/knowing, often due to a “strong inclination,” or calling (voluntary or involuntary)–as in the definition of the word vocation (a synonym for the word occupation used in the definition above)–, or 2) one who serves a specific purpose/function that allows others to gain knowledge/knowing.

One can, based on this understanding, become/be a teacher by a) calling or “destined” predisposition and/or through inspired “choice,” b) by example (either voluntarily/intentionally or involuntarily/unintentionally through the the simple reality of cause and effect/karma of one’s actions (whether directly or indirectly),* or c) by both predisposition/nature and based on function.

In most cases, the three converge.

Isvara, the Supreme Purusa, the Source of all knowledge, the True Self beyond Asamprajnata Samadhi, the source of all of creation (and the reality and manifestation of all of creation itself), the teacher of even the ancient teachers, is the creator of knowledge, and also the “vessel” through which knowledge is contained and passed on to others (in both subtle and tangible form).

This original source of knowledge, Patanjali reminds us, is the original and ultimate guruh/guru, unconditioned by time.

The knowledge from (and of) the source of all of creation is eternal and ever-present.

This knowledge has been passed down from (and by) numerous teachers for centuries, who connected back to the source within their unique manifestation of The Source and then distilled knowledge for others to understand and use in different ways. But, the knowledge from (and of) the source of knowledge itself is always present for everyone at all times.

Isvara, therefore, is the teacher of all teachers.

Life and knowledge, and all that is manifested within it, is, therefore, the True and ultimate guru.

When people in modern day societies hear the word teacher, they, in most cases, immediately imagine a person. And their imagined teachers may vary depending on their cultural conditioning, likes, preconceived notions about who teaches certain subjects, and so forth. In essence, most people automatically picture a particular human form (or a particular type of human form), based on their biases/limited experiences or understandings, when they hear the word teacher.

The Real Guru/teacher, however, is never truly just a person nor a thing, although a person or thing may channel the knowledge of the guru through their presence/function, words, thoughts, and/or actions (being a manifestation of the source of knowledge itself). The True Guru is always the Truth/knowledge that flows through all things and brings light/knowledge to all things. The True Guru is always Isvara.

Everything in life, therefore, everything manifested from the Source of all things/knowledge, here called Isvara, can teach you a lesson if you are receptive and prepared enough for any particular lesson, and, so, everything can be your teacher, since everything in life contains knowledge for you to gain understanding from (being a manifestation of Truth/Knowledge itself). Additionally, the knowledge of the Truth is the same in all things since all flows directly from the Source in essence. Everything, and anything, can be a catalyst for you to tap into infinite wisdom and understanding, which means that, ever-present learning and understanding is always here and ready to be revealed within/to you at all times.

But, in the same way that you cannot write complex paragraphs without first learning the ABC’s, understanding the True Self of Samadhi, and beyond, cannot come without first preparing yourself for this knowledge. This is where inner/mental purification is essential. If you are not prepared with the right foundation, no matter how clearly a lesson may be communicated to you (because the Truth is always shining forth clearly at all times), the message will become garbled in the distortion of any ignorance and distortion that is present within you and get lost in translation.

Clear understanding of higher communication/transmission is what the Eight Limbs of Yoga, therefore, helps practitioners to gain by guiding them to overcome ignorance and its accompanying delusions/attachments. The first limbs of Yoga are like the ABC’s of Self knowledge. Building from there, every level that is mastered on the way to the ultimate knowledge of the True Self of Samadhi, and beyond, moves you closer to fuller understanding of your Self (and all that is), as you clear away all other distortions.

Your Earthly gurus, reflecting the Ultimate Guru, Isvara, simply support you to remove the obstacles of distortion within you to the ever-present knowledge that is always there, shining through your being and everything around you at all times.

Through preparation and devotion, you move closer to your True Self in Yoga.

This is why, if you are serious about your goal of Asamprajnata Samadhi, and ultimately Spiritual Liberation, you have to practice/study each and every day. Getting to the level of inner purity where you can clearly see and reveal the inner light of the undistorted True Self requires the removal of “lifetimes” of accumulated distortions and attachments.

Have you been working on your Yoga continuously without pause, beautiful Creator (remembering that there are eight limbs to choose from at any given moment)?

Have you been learning all that you can from both your human and non-human guruhs/gurus/teachers?

What have these teachers taught you lately, and how are you implementing these lessons in your Yoga practice and your life moving forward?

*Think of how you can learn from observing others’ lives or their actions (neutrally, but only as it relates to you and how you interpret, or would shape, experience based on what you observe without attachment, not to make any judgment about others’ experience since you do not have that authority–no human does–and you are looking from the outside in and can only learn for you to see/understand based on the parts that are apparent to you not based on what is unknown and untouchable by any other in an individual’s personal experience–where sometimes your and their lessons are not even remotely the same though you may appear to be looking at “the same thing”), how you can gain knowledge from words that are communicated by another, how you can learn lessons from interactions in the present, and from actions/relationships of/from the past, etc. There are numerous ways in which events, things, and people become teachers by example and/or by function, by choice, or just “coincidentally.” Take all the lessons that come to/through you, and never become attached to the form.

Thank you for reading.

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