In the Ramacharitmanas, an ancient Hindu text, we have the telling of a deeply poignant interaction between Ram and his humble servant, Hanuman.
“Lord Ram gave Hanuman a quizzical look and said, ‘What are you, a monkey or a man?’ Hanuman bowed his head reverently, folded his hands and said, ‘When I do not know who I am, I serve You. When I do know who I am, You and I are One.’”
We were born with a case of amnesia. We do not know who we are. Where we come from. Why we are here. What to do.
Our job is to re-member, which means to join again.
In our forgetfulness, we look to others — experts, authorities, gurus, saints, sages, Gods, inspirational characters of all sorts — to re-mind us.
In spirituality (and in many other domains) this external seeking to join again is best represented by the guru-disciple relationship. Or, the relationship between the one in ignorance and the one in knowledge.
However, we are not in ignorance. We are in amnesia. We are in a temporary state of forgetfulness of the who, what, where, why, when of our existence. Therefore, any true teacher or guru or expert will help you to remember who you are by skillfully pointing you back to yourself. That’s the job they are uniquely suited for, hard-earned through years of dedicated practice and forbearance.
Believing another has the answer we are looking for, we naturally feel inclined to serve and get close to them. We are enamored, humbled, in reverence, and feel moved to do what we can to ensure this person can enlighten the world.
This voluntary service is an essential part of the journey and will happen, in one form or another, to every one of us. Through service to the teacher — i.e., the one we feel has something we do not — the disciple or devotee slowly, over time begins to merge with the object of their service—as what you connect with with sincere devotion, you become (to a startling degree).
It reaches a point where the devotee finally wakes up from their state of amnesia. She begins to understand that, “I am also that. My guru and I are not separate. We are one and the same.”
Of course, this has always been true from the start but such remembrance takes time and unthinkable amounts of patience to realize.
Guru and disciple can now release one another and detach with love. Each has performed the job required, as determined by nature’s law. The servant becomes the master, which is really just a slightly higher and more self-realized form of servant.
You are That.
Always have been and always will be.