A mountain is a wonderful place to relax, meditate, connect. So is a beach or a lake or a forest. However, these beautiful places cannot be your guru, your master teacher. Yes, nature can teach us many things and it is important that we spend time alone in magnificent places, but running away from the world is not the road to mastery.

I cannot count the number of times I have heard students say, “If I could just get away from these people, I know I could find peace and love.” We all know this is not the way it works. A mountain is a great resting place but it is not a guru.

Yogananda and His Mountain

In Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda shares his attempt to run away from his master guru, Sri Yukteswar.1 Yogananda was impatient and often frustrated by what his master told him to do. He was certain that he could easily reach his ascension if he could just get away to the mountains where he could meditate without the interruptions of daily life.

Yogananda asked Yukteswar if he could go away. The guru answered simply, “Wisdom is better sought from a man of realization than from an inert mountain.” However, the student felt he knew more than the teacher. Yogananda headed for the Himalayas in search of Ram Gopal Muzumdar, the Sleepless Saint.

The journey was difficult and the rebellious student was lost before he found his way to Muzumdar. After Yogananda pled his case to the saint, Muzumdar replied, “Young yogi, I see you are running away from your master. He has everything you need; you should return to him.” He added, “Mountains cannot be your guru” — the same thought that Sri Yukteswar had expressed two days earlier.

The young Yogananda returned to his guru with the understanding that the road to ascension requires a guide.

The Day of the Guru is Over, but…

“The day of the guru is over” is a common phrase in modern spirituality. This teaching is true but it has a specific meaning. We need to understand the meaning clearly to use it for our highest good.

The energy on Earth was very dense in ancient times. Master teachers needed students to toe the line, so to speak, with specific rituals and practices if they were to make progress on their spiritual journey. Students had to follow a guru’s directions exactly and were not allowed to question.

The process worked thousands of years ago. However, as the frequency of Mother Earth rose higher, the need for some rituals and practices diminished. We have reached the point in human evolution where everyone needs to be able to get clear guidance for themselves and not wait for instructions from the guru for everything they do. Hence, the day of the guru is over because we need to learn to be our own guru and stand in our power. This does not mean that we do not need teachers, and our teachers come in many forms.

Who is Your Teacher and Why are You Running to the Mountain?

Obviously, we have our traditional spiritual teachers, those whose classes we attend and books we read, and those we go to for direction and insight. We also have those fabulous volunteer teachers in our lives who help us get our daily lessons–our families, friends, co-workers, bosses, and more. Our teachers, no matter their form, are our mirrors. We cannot run away to the “mountain” to avoid what we need to learn, to avoid our mirrors.

Perhaps your nemesis is the teacher who recommends something you do not want to do or discourages something you do want to do. Like Yogananda, the spiritual adolescent thinks he or she knows better than the master and runs to the mountain to “follow my own path.” Perhaps your nemesis is a family member, friend, or co-worker who mirrors something you do not want to own in yourself. The spiritual adolescent believes that “out of sight, out of mind” can be a path to healing. A mountain cannot teach us to be masters and we cannot run away from the mirrors. I know it’s a bummer but it is true.

Who is the teacher you want to escape and why are you running? Whether you are running from the guru, your family, your job, or your neighbor, do not be afraid to face the mirrors head on. Embrace the challenge and become the masters that you are.

Remember the words of Muzumdar, “Young yogi, I see you are running away from your master. He has everything you need; you should return to him.”


1Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi (Self-Realization Fellowship) (p. 152-155). Self-Realization Fellowship. Kindle Edition.

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