Drawn Like a Moth to the Flame

by Carolyn (Karuna) Beaver

Having a Guru means you have made a choice to put yourself in the fire of yoga. As Swami Nirmalananda said in a 2015 year-long course on spiritual development, Gurus “are born of the fire, which means they burn the density and darkness out of you.”  Having a Guru is not easy. This is because Gurus are fiery!

I knew Swamiji was going to be my Guru the first time I met her, more than 13 years ago. She encouraged us to go out and meet enlightened beings and to find a Guru, saying that she was not one. But I somehow knew that she WAS a Guru, or at least would be one day. I could feel what I thought was “energy” coming from her. I could sense the potential not only of the practices she was teaching me, but where it came from.

I was drawn like a moth to the flame, but I had a clear recognition that I could get burned. Her presence scared the crap out of me! She minced no words. She was clear and direct, but not always kind. I sensed the depth of her knowledge and authority, but also her capacity. I knew I could learn so much from her, more than kindness alone could ever teach.

And I have. I made my way through various levels of Svaroopa® yoga teacher training, and then Svaroopa® Vidya meditation teacher training. I felt the power of the practices outside and inside. I decided I wanted to give back to the organization and the teacher that had given me so much. I decided I wanted a closer relationship with Swamiji – then, still Rama. I began doing seva and was eventually asked to join the Board of Directors.

Talk about being in the fire! But it’s just where I want to be. Swami pushes me to do more, to be more. She pushes me to be more my Self. She pushes me to look into the dark corners of my being. She shines light into the gnarly nooks and crannies of my mind. It isn’t pretty. And it isn’t easy. If I’d wanted easy, I wouldn’t have chosen to be in relationship with a fiery Guru. She is always teaching and testing me.

I’ve learned that her direct comments are not to put me down or make me feel bad. Only my insecurities can make me feel bad. I use those words to look deeper within my Self, to peel back layers of emotional “gunk.” I’ve dealt with habitual patterns of behavior that have held me back for decades. I am becoming more Me. I am becoming more my Self. I’m a work in progress.

But I have a goal. I want to become Self-Realized in this lifetime. And I know that I cannot do it on my own. I need my feet held to the fire to keep me accountable. I know my Guru already sees that I am Divine. I need her light to help me see my Self for myself. She knows what I am ready for and gives me a nudge when needed, so I can take the next step.

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