I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat Love Pray over the New Year holidays. It’s an account of a sabbatical year, eating in Italy, praying in India and finding love in Bali. There is quite a lot about meditation throughout, not just in the Indian bit, where she goes to an ashram.
The meditation bit, and the frequent references to gurus reminded me of the only time that I met a guru, though it was many years ago. I was doing a course on Creativity with the Open University. Creativity was widely interpreted, between innovation and adaptation. We had a course textbook and a manual describing hundreds of creative methods. One technique they suggested we try was meditation, to seek out a guru. We were told to relax, as I remember, in a dimly lit environment, breathe quietly and think of our journey or quest to find and then question the guru, who presumably had the answers to whatever our problems were.
So, I sat and meditated, not in the traditional cross-legged position, but in a comfortable chair. As instructed, I thought of this journey. It started in some far off country, down in a valley, green and lush as these valleys always are. I walked along the valley, upwards towards the mountains where the guru would be. Quite why gurus should sit and meditate on mountain tops was a question I never got answered.
Anyhow, I walked and walked, gradually out of this lush, verdant valley, and upwards to the mountains. I could see my guru from a long way off, sitting not on a mountain top, but on a col between two mountains. I approached him quietly, but he must have heard me coming. As I approached, he turned and looked directly at me. He was an old man, grey haired and with a long grey beard, and a calm, beatific face, the personification of all gurus. He looked at me steadily for a while before he spoke.
“Fuck off!” said the guru.
I’ve never tried meditating again.