The word guru has a really negative connotation in the West. We have a natural distaste for it. It could be our Judeo-Christian upbringing. It could be due to the fact that we don't like to put others above us. It could be a lot of things, but we are missing one important point.
A guru is a spiritual teacher. Our spiritual teacher. My spiritual teacher.
That is not a title that comes easily. It is not and should not be easily given. Very few deserve this title, regardless of their achievements or renown.
When we think of spiritual teachers that impact our life, we think of Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi. These are people that have impacted us as a society and we can receive their wisdom, their truth. We can digest it and make it our own. They are spiritual teachers and we could have a strong connection with them, but in most cases it is often a safe connection. Safe in the sense that we can enjoy their teachings and their message from the privacy of our own comfort zone. We don't need to extend ourselves at all, we don't need to form a connection, we can just stay in our comfort zone.
The Tibetan word for Guru is Lama. Lama has a connotation of being heavy, or serious. Seriously heavy.
Heavy in this sense doesn't mean a burden on one's shoulders. Heavy means that you can never pay back the impact that your spiritual teacher has had on your life. You can never pay back the impact they have had on your mind and how they have transformed your path.
We don't worship the guru as an idol. You shouldn't worship a guru as an idol. We pay reverence to the spiritual teacher because they have impacted our life and our life is precious. Their generosity, their kindness, has transformed our being.
We aren't the same because of them. We will never be the same because of them and their teachings. We can only work from this point. We move forward and we hope to repay their kindness.
We become the working basis. We become the teaching. Each step. One by one. We start out as a likeness of their generosity and kindness, until the likeness becomes inseparable and we become generosity and kindness.
Then there is nothing left to hold onto, nothing left to repay and no one to repay to. Everything is complete. Your mind and the guru's mind inseparable.