You yourself have to be the master and the pupil. You must understand it and examine it to find out a way of living better.
Every one is unique. So, you do not follow anyone blindly. Find your own path.
You are your own master, you make your own future.[Dhammapada - 380]
None can teach you. None can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul. ~ Swami Vivekananda.

Spiritual education

Dattatreya and his 24 Gurus

For Dattatreya, guru is any object or person which can teach him wisdom. He has taken 24 instances, humans, creatures and objects, to teach us something. he has gained the necessary wisdom, through 24 Gurus. The earth, air/breeze, sky, fire, the sun, pigeon, python, sea, moth, elephant, ant, fish, Pingala the courtesan, arrow-maker, infant/playful boy, the moon, honeybee, deer, bird of prey, maiden, serpent, spider, caterpillar and water are his twenty four preceptors.
  1. Earth for forgiveness, unselfishness and the strength to bear burdens. The earth, burdened by a thankless world, stands firm and proud. She bears sunlight, cold, windand rain with patience. It bears the dirt thrown on it by the people and does not get angry when people walk on her.
  2. Air, symbol of life is pervading everywhere, yet uncontaminated by the movements, Not resting in one place, always in motion but never tired.
  3. Sky is limitless vast and unseen. Though it might look bounded, it is vast and unbounded, symbol of infinite.
  4. Ordinary Water is extraordinary, It supports all life, none can live without it. Unobtrusively flows to the world, nourishing and refreshing.
  5. Fire reduces everything to its essence (bhasma), reminding us of freedom from the defects of avidya.
  6. Moon seems to wax and wane, yet there is no intrinsic change in it. Likewise the moods and changes should not affect persons nature or character. Being without light, yet it givesthe moonlight to the Earth by borrowing it from the Sun. It tells us not to loose our nature at the time of difficulty or get dejected, but to try again and again tomove forward.
  7. Sun light is reflected in gutters, rivers, streams, puddles, and looks different according to the contents and qualities of the water, but in itself it is the same. One should not be influenced by surroundings.
  8. Pigeon had little fledglings. They saw the seeds lying in the trap laid for them and due to greed went to pick them up and in the process lost their life. When caught in a net by a hunter, cried, luring the mother to her death.
  9. Python eat only what came to it, teaching learned the importance of patience and accepting facts of life. At times python spends days by fasting teaching us how to live with poverty.
  10. The ocean receives all rivers, all the waters of the earth, some clean, some polluted, yet it remains unaffected. Freedom from disturbance was the lesson from the ocean. The Rivers continuously keep on pouring its water in the sea and yet itdoes not cross its boundaries. Though by itself its water is sally, it provides sweet water to the clouds for rain.
  11. Seeing a firefly drawn to its destruction by its infatuation with the glittering flame, we can learn how desire can lead to destruction. In order to achieve its aim, Moth does not care for its own life, and gets burnt at the lamp (single minded determination).
  12. Flying from flower to flower, Bee takes only honey leaving the flowers unbruised and unhurt. It collects honey from theflowers and offers it to others. Bhiksha is about taking what was given voluntarily and offering good will in return. One should not live for oneself but others,
  13. elephant that hurtled down to its trap by being drawn to the wooden image of a female elephant. Overcome by lust the elephant gets caught and imprisoned for the rest of its life. One should not be deluded by the distractions of sensual desire. Even a photograph, a thought of a woman, can pull one down from one-pointedness in one's search.
    The Butterfly was sitting on the Lotus Flowers. In the night an Elephant ate the flower and as a result the Butterfly lost its life.
  14. The bee speeds his time making honey which the honey-gatherer enjoys. Precious time should be spent, not in acquiring but in making use of time for higher goals.
  15. A deer was on guard and alert. A hunter knowing its vulnerability, distracted it by music and caught it. Any vulnerability is a weakness on the spiritual path.
  16. The fish is caught because the bait with the worm is a temptation. One should be wary of the sense-organs and desires associated with them, whether it be taste, smell, vision, audition or touch.
  17. On one occasion courtesan called Pingala waited for her lover in great anguish and restlessness. But he did not come. At one point she became utterly disgusted with herself and thought, 'It is because of my desire and expectation that I suffer.'
    When Pingla Dancer was young at thattime it had many Customers. But When Pingla Dancer became old and she is unwanted and became poor.
  18. Small sparrow flying with a piece of food in its beak and encountera a Crow. Pursued by the Crow, the little sparrow dropped its food and escaped. The wisdom behind the instinctive action of the bird, that when the enemy is stronger, one should not hang onto possessions. One must be aware of one's limitations
    The Crow adopts the policy of selfishness and all creatures despise him. Selfishness can be extremely harmful.
  19. A little child was playing relaxed and untouched by the past. A child lives from moment to moment. There is no tension in play, no competition, just sheer joy and fun and celebration, like the flowering of the trees. We should be childlike at heart. Children do not nurse grievance,anger, jealousy, hatred and are free ofego and arrogance.
  20. A young girl had an unexpected guest (atithi who is regarded as divine). She went into the inner room to prepare food for them. While pounding the rice her glass bangles made a noise knocking against each other. She broke all bangles, except the last one. Sigle one can not make noise. One should walk alone on the spiritual path. Loneliness is good at times.
  21. Archer reminded "Om is the bow, atman is the arrow and the target is Brahman,"
    The Blacksmith puts the small pieces of Iron in the Furnace and with the help of the chisel, makes fine instruments out of it. In the same way a person who appears to be hardand with strong penance can transform himself into an useful person.
  22. Snake abandon crowds for safety. Do not hold on to anything known, whether a thought, or an emotion. This will help one to keep his awareness totally in every moment, unconditioned by yesterdays.
  23. The spider weaves its web with saliva from itself, and when it is done with it, takes it back into itself. The divinity that throws the cosmos out of itself, gathers it back into itself in the end. The spider builds its own web with single minded devotion.
  24. The wasp is said to take an insect, keep it in its nest, and keep stinging it every now and then until the insect becomes one-pointed with fear. In the end, insect itself become a wasp. "Brahma vidya brahmeva bhavati," ("To know Brahman is to become Brahman.").
    The snake torments others and is torments by others.