In response to our post: Analyzing Self-Analysis & “The Duties of An Acharya.”
Mark Viswambhardas Bartolome asked: “Where is my acharya?”
This was my response.
First we shall ask “Where am I, where is the disciple?” Before the acharya manifests, the qualities of a disciple must be present. Otherwise, the guru may be standing directly in front of a person, and he will not be recognized as the guru.
The qualities of a disciple develop as faith develops. That development procedes in this way:
ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu-
saṅgo ‘tha bhajana-kriyā
“In the beginning there must be faith. Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service.”
—Cc. Madhya 23.14-15
By Krishna’s grace we will know where our acharya is, and by the grace of the acharya we will learn where Krishna is. The general concept is explained in Chaitanya-charitamrta, Madhya Lila 19.151:
brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona bhāgyavān jīva
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja
brahmāṇḍa bhramite—wandering in this universe; kona—some; bhāgyavān—most fortunate; jīva—living being; guru—of the spiritual master; kṛṣṇa—of Kṛṣṇa; prasāde—by the mercy; pāya—gets; bhakti-latā—of the creeper of devotional service; bīja—the seed.
“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Kṛṣṇa. By the mercy of both Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.”
When the disciple has real faith in the acharya, the acharya is with him, at all times and in all circumstances.
Sri Guru is not who we think he is. He is not what we think he is. He is completely beyond our thinking. If it were not so, he would not be guru and we would have no need for guru, being complete in ourselves. We are never complete except by the grace of Sri Guru who, by his limitless grace, intercedes on our behalf to fill the gaps in our service to Sri Sri Guru Gauranga.