The Eternal Friend: Insights from Guru Purnima and the Bhagavad Gita

Delve into the profound teachings of Gurupurnima and the Bhagavad Gita, revealing the journey towards recognizing the Eternal Friend within.

Delving into Guru Purnima's significance, we uncover the profound connection with our inner eternal companion.

The spiritual path is always illumined by the grace of the guru—the Eternal Friend patiently awaiting our arrival. Discipleship is our step on to that path and our return to our true Self.



Celebrating Guru Purnima: A Time of Gratitude

Guru Purnima, the time of the luminous full moon, is a spiritual new year for devotees worldwide. It is celebrated in Yoga centers, Hindu temples, and homes of devotees. It is a time to offer gratitude for our spiritual teacher, for the path itself, and most of all, for God, the Teacher of all teachers, the true Guru within who is our Eternal Friend.

"Those who perceive Me everywhere and behold everything in Me never lose sight of Me, nor do I ever lose sight of them."

—from the Bhagavad Gita

The Deep Yearning for an Eternal Friend

We yearn for the eternal friend all our lives. Some of my earliest memories of childhood are about that innate longing for a true friend. So many years later, I still remember the early joys of friendship and the sorrows of rejection or betrayal that are often a natural part of our human relationships.

Qualities of a True Friend

What is it that we deeply yearn for in a friend?

What are we looking or hoping for?

It’s a long list.

We yearn for someone who loves us unconditionally that we can also love unconditionally.

We want a true friend who will be there for us through it all—someone we can call on who will understand us, who we can trust with our life, who will support us, laugh with us, play with us, and cry with us.

We want someone who knows us, a companion we can be silent with.

We want that person to be someone we want to always be with, a friend we don’t have to explain ourselves to, one who will bring out the best in us, challenge us to be all that we can be, tell us the truth, and be patient with us but not patronizing.

We want someone who believes in us and encourages us to be authentic.

Who is the friend who will never fail us?

The one who will never lose sight of us?

The Eternal Friend

The spiritual path is always illumined by the grace of the guru—the Eternal Friend patiently awaiting our arrival. Discipleship is our step on to that path and our return to our true Self.


Discovering the Divine Self in the Bhagavad Gita

In the Bhagavad Gita Chapter Six, verse 30, we find a key to this friendship. Krishna, the divine Self, says to the seeking soul, Arjuna:

Those who perceive Me everywhere and behold everything in Me never lose sight of Me, nor do I ever lose sight of them.

That eternal friend is God, the divine Self, seated in the heart of all.

Embracing the One Reality in All Form

Here is Twameva Mata, A beautiful Hindu prayer about the One who is all in all:

Om Twameva mata cha pita twameva, twameva bandhushcha sakha twameva.

Twameva vidya dravinam twameva, twameva sarvam, mama deva deva.

You alone are my mother, my father, my friend, and companion.

You are knowledge and wealth; you are all in all. You are everything to me.

The One Reality that is our Life is, indeed, all in all. That divine One appears to us as Mother, Father, and the Eternal Friend as the Guru—knowledge, wealth, life itself.

Lessons from the Guru: Seeing Beyond the Surface

How is it possible for us to recognize that Eternal Friend, to realize the omnipresent divine Self?

The Lord of this marvelous creation thinks of everything! God, the Eternal Friend, provides an embodied teacher, a guru, to show us how to see, know, and realize the spiritual truth of our being. We are shown how to look to the Source of it all.

My eternal friend, my Guru, Roy Eugene Davis describes the way:

If you are not yet aware of the presence of the reality of God, acquire an intellectual understanding of what you are as a spiritual being and of God…As your understanding improves, you will become intuitively aware of God’s existence around and within you; that it is providing a flow of resources, events, circumstances, and relationships that enhance your life.

While being thankful for the good fortune, consider such conditions as by-products of your ever-increasing awareness of God. Accept what is provided while being more interested in realizing the Source of good fortune. When you are anchored in God, living is enjoyable. [1]

This is the message of the guru:

See clearly, know fully. Realize that which you are and live joyfully.

The commitment of the Eternal Friend

The eternal friend, the guru, is committed to our liberation, to our full awakening in this lifetime – that’s the guru’s purpose. If we choose, we can see all that we experience in that light.

My guru, and the gurus in our tradition before him, always issued the call to enlightenment—the imperative for Self- and God-realization. The insistent encouragement that it is possible for us in this lifetime always accompanied that call. Don’t put it off by thinking it is not possible for you.

I heard and experienced that call and encouragement from my guru, again and again. Stay focused on the goal. Enjoy your life but don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked. Keep on keeping on. Be steadfast on your enlightenment path. Go further, go deeper, and realize what is true. Don’t stop short of the goal. Don’t confuse the path for the destination.

On one occasion, many years ago, I had the opportunity to assist him during a Kriya Yoga initiation ceremony. Initiation is a high point in our tradition, a time when the liberating practices passed down through the ancient lineage of gurus and disciples are shared. I took my responsibility very seriously. At one point during the service, he looked directly at me, and he winked. He winked, and he smiled!

I was entirely caught off guard. What was that wink? Really? What does he mean? Of course, he might have just intended for me to lighten up a bit, but when I contemplated it, I experienced a profound teaching in complete harmony with what he had always taught me. See through even this. Even this that we treasure as our tradition and our essential practice. See where it comes from and what it points to. My teacher’s wink came through like that of a Zen master. Don’t be so distracted by the finger pointing at the moon that you miss the moon.

Though this has been a glorious weekend of ritual, yajna, fire ceremony, prayers, and mantras, that same teaching says: enjoy it but see through it. Enjoy it, but know that ritual or action is not “it.”

The Upanishad's Tale: The Journey to Discovering the Eternal

Here’s a story from the Taittiriya Upanishad:

Brighu goes to his father Varuna and says, “please teach me the Eternal. What is God, what is Brahman, the Ultimate Reality?”

His Father says, “Seek to know the Source of all that is. What is it that all life comes from, is sustained and nourished and by, and ultimately returns to? Meditate on that. Contemplate that.”

Brighu contemplates as his father has instructed and has a breakthrough. Food! Food is indeed one of the first thoughts we all have in meditation! Brighu discerns that everything comes from, is nourished by, and ultimately becomes food.

“Yes,” his father says, “and you must meditate more, my son.”

Brighu comes back and exclaims: “I’ve got it! It’s Prana! It’s life force. Everything comes from and returns to energy.”

Again, Varuna replies, “Yes, and Meditate more. Go deeper.”

After further contemplation, Brighu declares, “Now, I see it! It is the subtle blueprint! Mind is the source and the sustainer and the return of all. It is all mind.

More from Varuna: “Yes, mind is pervasive and supports all, but, my son, meditate more.”

Ah, after deeper contemplation, Brighu returns to his father with the insight: “It is wisdom. Deeper, more subtle even than mind, wisdom is the eternal source of all that is. It supports everything, and everything returns to it.”

Brighu meditates more. Then he discovers joy. Joy upon joy! Beyond the body, breath, mind, and intellect is bliss—the unconditional joy of the soul.

The Upanishad states:

Brighu meditated and found that joy is Brahman. From joy are born all creatures, by joy they grow, and to joy they return.

Then, beyond even that, Brighu realized the Self, the One Reality, in the very depths of meditation. He realized the source, the substance, and the homecoming of all that is, as he experienced the meeting the Eternal Friend.

This is the great tactic of the Eternal Friend, the great play which allows us to discover the Friend hiding in our own hearts, accessible through the doorway of joy. Don’t stop at the door!

When we seek the Source, we discover the Self as inescapable joy if we look deep enough.

Here are some words of Lord Krishna, the divine Self, the Eternal Friend of all, offered by Janeshwar, a poet-saint of India:

Therefore, giving up the conception of difference, a person should know Me alongside himself (or herself). One should not regard their own Self as different from Me, as a speck of gold is not different from the whole block of gold. One should understand well how a ray of light, though proceeding from an origin, is continuous with it. Like molecules on the surface of the earth, or flakes of snow on the Himalaya, all individual souls dwell in Me. A ripple, small or great, is not different from water. So one should know the Self as not different from Me. Such insight is called Devotion. This is the supreme knowledge, the essence of all Yoga. [2]

[1] Roy Eugene Davis, Truth Journal Magazine, Autumn 2004.

[2] Janeshwar, trans. by Jonathan Star in Two Suns Rising: An Anothology of Eastern and Western Mystical Writings, (New York: Bantam Books, 1992 paperback edition) 201.

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