How does a person know, on a practical everyday level, whether or not the overall direction of their life is pleasing to God? This question was the topic of a lecture by Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda. Jagad Guru began by sharing that, because we are all God’s servants, the real question is, “How can I function in such a way that I am pleasing to God?”

“If we can appreciate the fact that we are never really separated from God because all energy is God’s, and we are His energy, then it is important to know whether or not our actions are pleasing to Him,” he said.

Jagad Guru says, “The answer can be found in three sources: a spiritual master, scripture, and the Lord in the heart. First, you must have a spiritual master, and this is especially important in the beginning when you are not perfectly seeing how to function as God’s servant; how to please Him. So, first I must find a bona fide spiritual master who is already engaged in the loving service of God; who is already pleasing Him.

If I can find someone who’s already pleasing God, and I follow in that person’s footsteps and follow his instructions, he can teach me how I also can become a pleasing servant of God.” It’s not that we just listen to anybody about how to please God. We must consider their qualifications and where their teachings are coming from. There are many cults and phony gurus who make up their own “truths” and such teachings should be avoided.

The second source is scripture, the word of God. If we are studying and taking instruction from scripture, when we hear from guru we should take it “within and check with scripture.” We should ask, "Is what I am hearing contradictory to what is taught in scripture? Did Jesus Christ teach something diametrically opposed to what I am hearing? Is what I’m being taught diametrically opposed to what is in the Bhagavad-gita, or is it the same?" Anything we hear from a bona fide spiritual master can be confirmed in scripture. If what a spiritual master tells us contradicts the essence of scripture, then we can know what he told us is not true, he is not bona fide.

The third source is Paramatma, or the Lord in the heart. Jagad Guru says this is what we may call our intuition or voice within. “This is where God gives me instruction on how to please Him: how to serve Him. He doesn’t leave me on my own. If I want to please Him, He lets me know how to please Him.”

“God provides us with these three sources—guru, scripture, and the Lord in the heart—so that if we listen carefully and pray, we can hear the Lord from within our heart giving us instruction, we can follow scripture, and we can take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master, the confidential servant of God. With these three things, we can live our life in a very secure way knowing that we are pleasing to God.” It is important to note that if one is sincere in their search for a bona fide teacher, and carefully considers what they are hearing and checks it against scripture and the Lord in their heart, they will not be misled by the countless number of fake gurus, cult leaders, or fanatics in the world who are posing as representatives of God.

Jagad Guru cautions that “there are some people who say you don’t need all three sources. They say you don’t need a spiritual master, and that all you need to do is listen to your inner voice. But this can be dangerous. You need a second and third source in order to confirm that your inner voice is leading you in the right direction.” If you’re being guided by someone who teaches you that you don’t need scripture, guru, or the Lord in the heart, all you need to do is listen to them, then there’s every chance you will be misled. There is no shortage of phony gurus or cult leaders trying to build their following. That is all the more reason why these three sources of information are so invaluable.

Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda is a Vaishnava spiritual master in the disciplic succession known as the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya. This highly respected spiritual lineage extends back over 5,000 years to Lord Krishna Himself.


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