spiritual teacher

When the Heart Speaks: Meeting the Guru

The Role of the Spiritual Teacher in Kriya Yoga

Meeting the guru (spiritual teacher) is the way to meet one’s own Self—the key to our highest happiness. The Sanskrit word Guru means “the light that dispels the darkness of ignorance.” It also means “teacher” and commonly refers to one’s spiritual teacher or spiritual guide. God is the ultimate Guru, the teacher of all teachers, the inner light within us all.The greatest sorrow we have, the source of our suffering and confusion is Self-alienation—forgetting the truth about who we are as divine beings. We cannot live the divine life we are destined for, even though we yearn for it and look everywhere for it, until we realize the truth of who we are. Not realizing the spiritual truth about who we are, we feel like something is missing and search everywhere for it. What we are looking for is our Self, our higher true Self.

Our spiritual teacher or guru is the one who introduces us to the true Self. It’s strange to think we would need such an introduction! But most of us wander in the wilderness of forgetfulness for years without being able to see our true face. We do not fully discover our divine identity until the Friend comes along, speaks the language that our heart remembers, and shows us the way home to the highest happiness.

The One Thing That Matters

When I met my guru, Roy Eugene Davis, in the Fall of 1979 I was 30 years old and the time in my life was exactly right. I was searching, though I didn’t know I was. I was filled with sorrow, though I didn’t know why. At such a young age, I thought I had tried everything to be happy. I had certainly tried a lot of things. But not the one thing that would matter, the one thing that would change the course of my life forever. That one thing was “yes.” The yes that is surrender. And even though it was initially a feeble attempt, the river of divine grace flowing in my life carried me along once I jumped in.

The “jumping in” was the surrender of listening to my heart, to my essential Self.  

spiritual teacher

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian with her spiritual teacher Roy Eugene Davis

It was the willingness to acknowledge what I inwardly knew was true about me and about life itself. It was time to remember: I was not avictim of anyone or anything. I was a divine being. My past did not and could not define me. My future was open to whatever possibility I was willing to envision, embrace, and stand for.

God is not some far off, never reachable Big Bearded Person in Space but the very Life of my life. The Source of my strength, the Love of my love—my guide, my inner wisdom, my polestar. When I met my teacher for the first time I heard him say “there is only one ultimate Reality and we are all expressions of that.”  We are divine beings. We are whole, we are complete. We are enough. Nothing is missing. We simply need to realize and actualize that. It is our destiny to wake up and when we do, our life changes forever, for good.

From Self-Alienation to Self-Realization

I had never heard of Roy Eugene Davis before. A friend invited me to hear his lecture. I didn’t know who Mr. Davis was, or who Paramahansa Yogananda was. I didn’t know what Kriya Yoga was, or Vedanta, or enlightenment, for that matter. But when he spoke, my heart, my soul, recognized the teaching, and the teacher, immediately. I didn’t know what to call it, or him, or what to think of any of it, but I recognized it. It was familiar.

It simply took a little time for the rest of me to catch up to what my heart remembered. It took time for my mental fog and egotistical resistance to clear up.

But what I experienced at that first encounter was a deep resonance with what I knew to be true. I thought he was speaking directly to me. He answered my questions without me having to verbalize them. It was mental and spiritual attunement.

Roy Eugene Davis described his meeting with Paramahansa Yogananda in a similar way: As I read Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi in the spring of 1949, I immediately recognized that he was my guru and the Kriya Yoga tradition was my spiritual path. When I met him at the Self-Realization headquarters early in the evening of December 23 of that year, a mental and spiritual connection was immediately evident. I didn’t have to wonder if I was where I should be in the Cosmic Order; being with him was familiar and natural. I found my spiritual home. [1]

My meeting with Mr. Davis cleared up the same issue. I didn’t have to wonder if I was where I should be in life. I was on the path of divine remembrance. I had begun the journey that would take me from Self-alienation to Self-realization—from the experience of not knowing where (or if) God was, to discovering that God dwells within me as me.

When I think of my beloved spiritual teacher today, I am grateful for many things but most of all for his steadfast dedication that made that meeting possible.

Your Divine Life is Waiting for You

I have tried for years to explain what it was that I experienced when I first met my spiritual teacher. My heart was stirred with divine remembrance. I felt he was speaking to my heart. I have described it as “attunement” or “transmission”– a mental and spiritual connection that allowed a deep listening to occur, beyond the actual words spoken.

What I realize today is something slightly different. It is this: When I met my guru, he spoke the truth so clearly that I could hear my own heart speaking. My heart was speaking—my heart where God dwells.

My heart said: now is your time to wake up. Now is your time to be free, to live as the divine being that you are. This is what the world needs. This is what you need; this is what you have been waiting for. Your divine life is waiting for you.


[1] Roy Eugene Davis, Radiance Magazine, 2016




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  1. Pingback: The Eternal Friend: The True Guru Within - Ellen Grace O'Brian

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