The Necessity of the Spiritual Master
A striking perception for a student of religions is the universal insistence that instruction by an adept teacher is necessary for development in the spiritual life.
—Joel D. Mlecko
[A] brother confessed to an elder: “In my cell I do all that one is counselled to do there, and I find no consolation from God.” The elder said: “This happens to you because you want your own will to be fulfilled.” The brother said, “What then do you order me to do, father?” The elder said, “Go, attach yourself to a man who fears God, humble yourself before him, give up your will to him, and then you will receive consolation from God.”
—Sayings of the Desert Fathers (early Christian)
Without a Guru we can never attain to real knowledge. . . . Even though one may study the sciences and attain to all kind of powers, both physical and mental, without the grace of the Guru one cannot realize the Self. Contemplation and concentration, devotion and worship, would be all useless without the grace of the Guru.
Whatever we are now is the result of our acts and thoughts in the past, and whatever we shall be in the future will be the result of what we think and do now. But this, the shaping of our own destinies, does not preclude our receiving help from outside; nay, in the vast majority of cases such help is absolutely necessary. When it comes, the higher powers and possibilities of the soul are quickened, spiritual life is awakened, growth is animated, and in the end man becomes holy and perfect.
This quickening impulse cannot be derived from books. The soul can receive impulses only from another soul, and from nothing else. . . .
The person from whose soul such an impulse comes is called the guru, the teacher; and the person to whose soul the impulse is conveyed is called the shishya, the student. To convey such an impulse to any soul, in the first place, the soul from which it proceeds must possess the power of transmitting it, as it were, to another; and in the second place, the soul to which it is transmitted must be fit to receive it. The seed must be a living seed, and the field must be ready ploughed; and when both these conditions are fulfilled a wonderful grown of genuine religion takes place.
—Swami Vivekananda (Hindu)
There is no account that tells of anyone who attained Buddhahood without a Guru. Also, it is obvious that no one has achieved the virtues of the spiritual stages and paths through guesswork and self-concoctions; [lacking a Guru,] all sentient beings, yourself included, will simply follow a wrong path. As regards the path of freedom and omniscience, you are like a blind man bewildered on a desolate plain. [Similarly], there is no example of anyone who obtained gems from a jewel-island without relying on a sea captain. Spiritual teachers and spiritual friends are the real guides to the freedom and omniscience [of Buddhahood]. Therefore, you must rely on them with respect.
—Patrul Rinpoche (Tibetan Buddhist)
None has ever realised the Supreme without the mediation of the guru.
—Guru Nanak (Sikh)
The Way of the Tao must be taught. If you do not meet an enlightened teacher, everything goes awry.
—Liu I-ming (Taoist)
Man may seek the fountain of life by himself. He may seek to discover the principles of spiritual regeneration through his own efforts. But this endeavour is in vain and will never bear fruit unless the master is present together with the discipline which only he can impart. . . . Only the power of the shaykh can deliver man from himself—from his carnal soul—so as to enable him to behold the Universe as it really is and to rejoin the sea of Universal Existence.
—Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Sufi)
Having found [a teacher and guide], cleave to him with body and spirit like a devoted son to his father and from then onwards obey all his commands implicitly, accord with him in everything, and see him not as a mere man, but as Christ himself. . . . Is it therefore possible to think that a man leads a Divine life, in accordance with the Word of God, if he lives without a guide, pandering to himself and obeying his own self-will?
—Writings from the Philokalia (Russian Orthodox Christian)
[A] mediator, having no instructor and being entirely dependent on book knowledge, will be as cautious and hesitant as a traveler who has never been on a particular journey. Therefore, it is obviously not very easy for such a person to attain the paths and fruitions of nirvana if he goes on striving without a teacher to guide and encourage him. This being so, one who is really keen to meditate until he attains his goal, nirvana, must find a teacher who is fully qualified by his own attainments to guide him all along the way from the lowest stage of insight to the highest knowledges of the path and the fruition of nirvana. This advice is quite in accord with what is stated in the scriptures: “A teacher should be sought for knowledge about decay-and-death as it really is.”
—Mahasi Sayadaw (Theravada Buddhist)
When you have found [a guide], do not look on him as a mere man nor trust in him as such nor in his human knowledge but in God who will favour you and speak to you by means of this man, putting into his heart and into his mouth whatever shall be requisite for your happiness so that you out to listen to him as to an angel who comes down from heaven to conduct you thither.
—St. Francis de Sales (Catholic Christian)
The zaddik stands between heaven and earth. His relationship is twofold. On the one hand, he is the means by which heaven reaches the people. On the other hand, he is the means by which the people reach heaven. He brings heaven to earth and raises earth to heaven.
—Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polnoy (Hasidic Jewish)
The Guru is the means. For Self-Realization, the Guru is the most effective means. Lord Shiva also agrees that a disciple’s Self-unfolding takes place only by Guru’s grace. The Guru destroys the darkness in the hearts of his disciples and fills them with the light of knowledge.
The Guru should not be confused with a particular physical form. Nor does a flair for scholarship or literary talent make one a Guru. The Guru is one in whom the Divine power of grace has taken permanent abode.
Even an ordinary teacher can impart a mantra, prescribe some tantric technique, or explain the scriptures. He alone is supreme Guru who dispenses grace and enters his disciples as grace, blessing them with Shaktipat. . . . Such a Guru, the most effective of means for his disciples, is truly hard to find.
—Swami Muktananda (Hindu)
The above statements have been excerpted from: Ruchira Avatara Gita (The Avataric Way Of The Divine Heart-Master) by The Ruchira Avatar, Adi Da Samraj