Someone asked in a different thread how to recognize a “Realized Guru”. I’ll give my 2 cents on this.
First, short answer: (1) You can never recognize a realized person confidently. (2) Even if you do, it may not be of any use. (3) If a realized Guru is to guide you, HE will find you and guide you, irrrespective of whether or not you recognize him! (4) Just make sure you benefit from whatever guidance is available to you right now. If you do, trust Nature to arrange for the next step!
Now the long answer.. :-)
A realized person engages in spontaneous actions based on the momentum of prior karmas and views Lord as the doer of those actions and himself as a mere instrument. He (or she) has no agenda to steer his karmik path. His prior karmik momentum steers it for a while. As that momentum winds down, his karmik path is steered & carved more and more by Cosmic Rhythm (ritam).
In the case of normal people, individual agendas and conditioning compete with Cosmic Rhythm to steer and carve the karmik path and there is much friction. There are 2 voices within us - one of conditioning and one of conscience - always competing.
After one becomes realized and prior karmik momentum ceases, that friction disappears and one is more and more in tune with Cosmic Rhythm.
But you cannot recognize such a person from what he does. It is not actions that distinguish, but the attitude in them, specifically lack of sense of doership. We have to get inside someone’s mind to judge it! It can never be confidently judged from external words and actions.
One likely quality is that there will be a sense of purpose behind actions and frivolous and egoistic actions and distractions are unlikely.
However, if prior momentum is still considerable, any action - even frivolous one - is possible (but it will be done without sense of doership and with surrender to Lord).
Even if prior momentum has ceased and one is completely guided by Cosmic Rhythm, the actions may not always seem purposeful to us. After all, Cosmic Rhythm works with a highly long-term agenda and may not make sense in short term!
A set of seemingly random, frivolous, mad or purposeless actions may serve a great purpose in long term!
Apart from actions being driven by a sense of purpose and inherent calm, another hallmark will be acceptance of karma phala. Whatever comes one’s way, one accepts it calmly and without protesting.
Again, we are talking of mental acceptance here. One may externally act like one has accepted and is peaceful, but may be seething with anger or frustration within. Another may have accepted it completely within, but acting upset for some purpose (e.g. test someone or get rid of someone or impart a lesson).
Even if one successfully recognizes a Realized Guru and spends much time with him, it may not do anything.
If a budding cricketer or tennis player spends a lot of time with Sachin Tendulkar or Roger Federer, he may not become a better player himself. It is more useful to spend time with a good coach and master the basics, before one is able to observe nuances from a maestro and integrate them into one’s game!
Similarly, an unprepared seeker will not get anything by running after a Realized Master. One is better off honing one’s basic skills such as discipline, patience etc.
In any case, most people seeking a realized guru do so out of greed and impatience!
Instead of wasting time seeking a Realized Master, one is better off benefiting fully from whatever guidance is currently available to one, from a person or books or whatever.
When one has benefited from what Nature has given one, trust Nature to arrange for the next step!
Moreover, if a Realized Master is destined to guide you, trust him to find you himself and guide you! Sometimes, that may happen without you even knowing! There is no point searching everywhere for a Realized Master.
Irrespective of whether one’s guru is realized or not, one can progress if one keeps faith in guru and serves selflessly. However, that faith should be un breakable!
If one develops faith in a pretender, it may oneday become very very difficult to sustain that faith!
If one’s guru is scandalized and one’s heart still has faith, one should of course ignore all scandals and stick to guru sincerely.
But, even after one’s heart knows one erred in keeping faith in that guru, some try to pretend that they still have faith and prolong it. That often does not help - such pretended faith cnanot be sustained for long. It is better to let it break earlier.
Someone said in the same thread, “have unquestionable faith in the saints”. But, there are many saints and many many more pretend saints. It is neither necessary nor useful to “have unquestionable faith” in all of them.
More useful is to have faith in one (or few) that one has dedicated oneself to. Even more useful is to have faith in the voice of one’s own conscience.
THAT is the representative of God within one; THAT is the real Guru within one; and, THAT is one’s passport to Realization.
As one is more under tamas, that voice is not even heard. As one is more under rajas, that voice is heard feebly nor and then. As one is under sattwa, that voice is clearer.
Learn to listen to the voice of conscience within you and you will cross the sea of world appearance.
Unfortunately, there are 2 voices within us - voice of conscience and voice of conditioning. Often the latter overpowers the former. But the great thing with the former is that it never gives up and keeps repeating itself.
If you go by the latter, the former will still keep pricking you. You’ll have sustained peace only when you go by the former and suppress the latter.
I criticized specific actions or words of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or Sadhguru, but did not make any judgments on whether they are realized. I may have my own guesses, but it is difficult to be sure. Moreover, it does not matter. But, judging specific actions or words can serve a purpose or guide someone.
I may criticize Sri Sri’s assertion that “Hinduism grants homosexuality and Lord Ayyappa born to Vishnu and Shiva is an example” by pointing out that Vishnu took a female form (Mohini) in that example.
I may criticize Sri Sri’s unimformed comments on Aghora and mis-characterizations. I may take an exception to selling pranayama for exorbitant prices. I may disagree with the characterization of freezing in a televised debate as equanimity or sattwa.
But I only take specific actions or words and comment on them. I have no comments on his spiritual stature and realization status. It is irrelevant to me (and to you too).
One last word:
A very wise and equanimous man I had the privilege of knowing (like his guru, he does not try to amass followers) was asked if he was realized. He thought for a moment and replied honestly, “I don’t know.”
If you have been able to be detached and equanimous for a long time, perhaps it was because your detachment and equanimity did not face circumstances that were challenging enough. Mahamaya can perhaps delude ANYONE if She so wills!
Perhaps Realization is not a single point but a continuum..