I am a 19-year-old boy from Delhi and have decided that I will lead a spiritual life to fulfill the purpose of human life. I have no money and don’t know where to go to find a guru. I don’t want to do spirituality amid the material world. Please tell me where I can go to find a guru?
Finding one’s true guru is a matter of the heart. Yogananda recommends trying various paths, various gurus, applying their teachings and practices, and feeling deep inside the heart: is this mine? Then, once you have chosen, your path is set: don’t change or try anymore. Just follow your chosen guru.
So, for now, begin to apply the teachings of some gurus – one who somehow touches your heart. Immerse yourself and see what happens inside of you. Also, see if you feel among his devotees that you are with your spiritual family. Then change and follow for some time another guru and try to strongly increase your sincerity. It is said that when the disciple is ready, the guru automatically appears.
In India, it is often said that one needs a living guru. Yogananda taught differently: you can have a guru who has left the world. You need only a significant touch such as in initiation from one of his or her descendants.
Pray to God to help you in your search. Pray hard with passion. These prayers alone can give you an answer. Yogananda gave us an example in Autobiography of a Yogi when he writes: “Torn by spiritual anguish, I entered the attic one dawn, resolved to pray until the answer was vouchsafed. ‘Merciful Mother of the Universe, teach me Thyself through visions, or through a guru sent by Thee!'”
One last thing: be open to the possibility that your guru will tell you to find work, earn money, and live spiritually in that situation because there might be an important lesson for you to learn. Yogananda too wanted to leave everything but his guru told him, to his dismay, to go back to university and study. Yogananda also didn’t want to create an organization (because they are a “hornet’s nest”) but his Master told him to do so. So… his will be done, not yours. Are you ready?
Lastly, remember that following a guru means discipline. Whatever guru you choose for now, “trying him out,” do it with rigorous discipline. Practice firmly what he teaches as the word “discipline” “is etymologically rooted” in the word “disciple” (as you read in the Autobiography of a Yogi).
All the best, may you magnetically draw your guru to you,