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The relationship between God and spiritual teachers in the East has been the source of confusion for millennia, and this confusion has recently gotten worse. In India today, for example, some holy men and women are believed to be incarnations of gods and goddesses, and their followers believe that, sooner or later, through the grace of these gods-incarnate, they will be blessed with worldly and spiritual success. It is on the ground of this belief that a guru cult takes root. The worship of personality then becomes the focal point of spirituality, and this inevitably leads to disappointment and disillusionment.
Patanjali was evidently aware of the confusion caused by this cult mentality and thus devoted an entire sutra to putting the issue to rest. He reverses by 180 degrees the cultish notion that the guru is God by saying that God is the guru of all previous gurus because he alone is not limited by time. This means that no physical teacher can ever have the knowledge of infinite truth, for such knowledge is available only to the one who transcends time. And because God alone transcends time, all mysteries are known only to God. It is the light of this supreme being, God, that enlightens the minds and hearts of individuals.
In reality, it is this light of God that is the true guide. This inner light is not a person, but it dispels the darkness of ignorance (avidya) enabling us to see through the wall of false identification (asmita), attachment (raga), aversion (dvesha), and fear of death (abhinivesha). Attaining union with this inner guide is the goal of yoga. Once we decide to employ all of our resources—physical, mental, and material—to attain this union, the inner guide arranges for a guide in the external world to come forward and pave our way for the inward journey.
More to come