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Mind, Body & Soul - You Are Your Own Guru

Long has been said, the answer lies within and here too Maili tempers us to be our own Guru's

My first experience of the power of the Guru was when my own father became a well-known medicine man, or healer at the age of 23. He travelled through Canada and the United States on Pow-wow circuit, attended Gatherings, wrote articles and gave workshops.

I remember vividly the spangled look that would arise in people's eyes when they found out who my father was.

‘Oh, Gabriel's your father?!'

During these years my Dad was by all accounts depending upon the raconteur - an amazingly, precocious gifted healer or a charlatan scoundrel. By the time he was 28 he retired and became simply a dad.

Years later I asked him why he quit and he said he grew tired of people wanting to give him the power over their lives by looking to him for all the answers with what to do with their lives.

Herein lies the answer, in my opinion as to how Guru's, which means ‘Teacher' in Sanskrit get led astray.

The yoga world has been rocked by four of the most influential teachers in recent times being accused of primarily, sexual misconduct. John Friend, founder of Anusara yoga, Bikram Choudry founder of Bikram Yoga, Kausthub Desikachar, the grandson of Krishnamacharya (founder of modern yoga) and Yogi Bhajan, the founder of Kundalini yoga have scandals running the gamut from financial misconduct to affairs with married students to rape. Of course, these are only the latest in a long line of teachers abusing their position of trust from school teachers to religious leaders the world over.

All teachers, by nature, are the most gifted, dedicated students. But the Guru is a teacher whose capacity to retain and transmit the teachings they have been taught is superior; often accompanied by extraordinary charisma and extra-sensory perceptivity.

Often students confuse their teacher's incredible capacity to inspire, transmit teachings and create community with them being the origin of the teachings, therefore the Ultimate Teacher, The One etc. Students want their teacher to be the best ever.

Eventually, some teachers begin to believe this of themselves as well.

A true Guru understands that this fallacy is part of a student's growth and will always disabuse this notion and encourage students to find their inner guru by not believing everything they say until they experience it for themselves. Through our own direct experience of the teachings we become our own Ultimate Guru, The One.


A student may have powerful, life-changing physical experiences in meditation and yoga. Often they will place themselves in physical proximity to great teachers in order to have a direct experience of the teacher.

It is natural for students to feel a great love for their teacher whom has guided them to such deep, transformative places. It is natural for many of us, both men and women to confuse this love with romantic love. Who among us hasn't had a crush on our teacher whether it was in grade four or college or as an adult?

It is our teacher's responsibility to help guide us past this phase and not get drunk on the intoxicating fumes of adoration and sexual desire. A teacher understands that they also had this experience. A true Guru respects the trust placed in them and understands that the student is actually in love with the teachings.


A true teacher understands that the student is having a before and after experience. That coming into direct, experiential contact with teachings that are meant to transform us on all levels is life-changing and can make students vulnerable, confused, ecstatic, angry, and desperate for understanding and certainty. A true teacher helps students to stand in the maelstrom of emotions without preying on their chrysalis state.


Always thank your teachers with great reverence for guiding you responsibly to your greatest growth. Be mindful in your community of fellow practitioners becoming dogmatic, turning a blind eye to discrepancies in the teacher or each other and help each other keep perspective.

Honour your teachers by being respectful of their humanity and help them stay on course to being the best teacher they can be by not deifying them.

May we all grow together in peace, in harmony and safety.

Maili Dinim is a Yoga Instructor and Natural Food Chef. She can be contacted via

Image courtesy of Maili Dinim / Edit by Cat Milton

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