Like most of us, you have probably heard the term Guru being used and misused.

What does the word actually mean? In the original Sanskrit language, it means no more than master, as in someone who has mastered a subject, or teacher. Any teacher; no more, no less. A guru teaches his or her chelas, which means students, imparting his or her accumulated knowledge further.

Nowadays, the word has taken on additional meanings, some of them quite negative.

For example, a guru may be someone who in some way acquires followers, often innocent or naïve people who believe in their brand of religion. There is a sense of control, manipulation and even abuse of the followers. These kinds of gurus can effectively become cult leaders.

In other cases, the meaning is more that of a person who sets him or herself up as an (often ultimate) authority on some subject. The subject matter may be anything from cooking to Internet marketing to self-development. They could be mavens, ready to assist anyone who asks for their help. On the other hand, they might also use their positions as a means to ensure that others cannot catch up with them, imparting incomplete or even false information.

I’m sure there are other meanings you can think of for yourself.

In my teaching as a computer trainer, Reiki Master and, lately, adult educator, I have always striven to stay as closely as possible to the original meaning of the word guru. To quote from a book I am writing:

I believe that teaching others what I know and have learned to be a great good, if it serves to bring them to my level of knowledge and experience. They can then go further and I can learn from them, in mutual support. The more people who know what I know, the faster and easier it will be for all of us to move to a higher level of knowledge and experience. Newton once said “. . . if I have seen further, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” These days, the giants are often the people with whom we rub shoulders. Paradoxical as it sounds, we can all see further because we can stand on each other’s shoulders.

If you teach, which kind of teacher are you?

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