In a talk about phony gurus and cult leaders, Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda, a world-renowned yoga spiritual master, explains to his audience that our real best friend and protector cannot be found in another human, but only in God. “There is a best friend and that best friend is the Supreme Person, God. That best friend is your best friend and my best friend and the best friend of everyone. If you love that best friend, then you’ll be happy.”

He explains that, despite what may be our good intentions to take care of and protect others, we must recognize our limitations—that we are not God. “This best friend IS all-powerful. This best friend IS the most beautiful, the most attractive. This best friend IS the most wealthy. This best friend IS the most wise. This best friend has ALL good qualities.”

Jagad Guru shares a powerful illustration of this point from the Bible. When “a man approached Lord Jesus Christ and said, ‘Good master, good master,’ Jesus said, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.’” Now, of course Jesus is good, but it is actually his character that makes him good. “The quality that makes him the representative or son of God is the very fact that he doesn’t think, ‘I am God. I am the best friend. I am good.’ But rather, the lover of God thinks, ‘I am the most sinful. God is great, God is good, God is beautiful. Seeing the beauty of God, I see my own imperfection. I see how small I am. And I simply beg: Please don’t kick me away. Accept me. I am the most unacceptable person. I’m the most sinful person. But you have unconditional love for me.’” This is the opposite consciousness of the phony gurus and cult leaders who believe they are great, perfect, and pure and can be our protector.

Jagad Guru advises that we should not try to play the role of God with our loved ones. “If you really love your wife, your children, your friends, if you really love your husband, if you really love your neighbour, you will not cheat them into thinking that YOU can protect them, that YOU are all-beautiful, all-wise, all-wealthy. This is cheating. If we really love others, then we will try our best to introduce them to God, who is the real best friend; who is the real protector.” Only God is the real protector.

It is at this point that we need to recognize that we are powerless and that only God has the power to protect our loved ones. We must acknowledge that “they’re not in my hands anymore, they’re in the hands of God and really, they always were in the hands of God.” Because of our love for others, it is our duty to “not just pray for them, to help them when they leave their body, but our duty is to act NOW to help them—our child, our wife, our husband, our friends, our neighbours—to act now to help them develop their OWN personal, close, loving relationship with the Supreme Person. Then I know that when they leave the body, they will be taken care of by the person who they knew and lived for while they were in the body.”

In other words, Jagad Guru urges us to not spread the message of the phony gurus and cult leaders: “I’m your best friend and if you simply love me then I’ll protect you.” Instead, we need to introduce that person to God. “I will tell you about the Supreme Person, and I will teach you how to love the Supreme Person. I will encourage you to love the Supreme Person. I will encourage you to chant the names and the glories of the Supreme Person. This is what a real friend will do, not take the position of the Supreme Person. This is most important.”

It is through our love for others that we desire to see them happy and to give them protection. If we know that we are not able to truly protect them or love them unconditionally, like only God is able to do, we must help them find that protection and love that only God can offer.

Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda is a Vaishnava spiritual master in the disciplic succession known as the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya. This highly respected spiritual lineage extends back over 5,000 years to Lord Krishna Himself.