Why should I need a guru for that?
I am a sincere person who wants to mature, learn, and evolve. Why should I need a guru for that? I have my own legs to walk with, my own head to think with, my own heart to guide me, my own will to get me to my goals in life. Why should I let someone else decide for me? Why should I follow what any guru tells me to do? The guru is within me.

These are common thoughts and questions from people pursuing inner growth and truth.

We shall answer some of these questions with a lively slideshow consisting of ten meaningful idea images. They all describe what the guru is, how one acts, and why one is necessary. Get ready! You will watch slides that frame the disciple-guru relationship with images that include clean windows, powerful magnets, electric transmitters, courageous fighters, a spool of twine, caged birds, and more!

Is everybody in? The show is about to begin!

Slide 1: The Cosmos

Do you really need a guru? The answer is simple. No, you do not need a guru if you have only general human goals in life. However, that changes drastically if you have any of the following high spiritual ambitions:

  • Self-realization – Realizing yourself not as a mortal person, but as an eternal soul.
  • God-unionUniting the little wave of your individual consciousness with the ocean of Spirit, entering into a state of oneness.
  • Samadhi (Divine Ecstasy) – Experiencing the endless and ever-new bliss of your being.

If this is the case, then YES, you definitely need a guru – a true guru (satguru). Let’s be honest. Could we, with our imperfect personalities and frailties reach such heavenly goals just by ourselves? Could we by our own strength attain cosmic soul-identification? We simply cannot. We need the support of a guru.

Slide 2: The Mountain Guide

The road to God is like climbing a high mountain. People often do not anticipate a number of things about the path to God.

  • How steep it is
  • How many dangerous passages there are
  • Where we can slip and fall
  • How many times we can and have lost our way during the upward climb

The true guru (satguru) is like a mountain guide who knows the terrain and helps us along until we have reached the peak. It would be foolish to try and climb this high mountain without a guide. We can never make it to the top on our own.

What Is a True Guru?

If you knew my consciousness…Paramhansa Yogananda
True gurus are those who have already reached the goal we are aspiring to reach. Their consciousness is without ego, which means that in themselves they do not feel limited as humans anymore. They perceive themselves as the True Self — as pure consciousness, formless, anchored in cosmic oneness, in God-union. On the surface, they act like all of us and appear quite normal but, inwardly, their deeper reality is nothing but divine bliss, wisdom, love, and cosmic freedom.

Once Yogananda looked deeply into Kriyananda’s eyes and told him, “If you knew my consciousness.” In time Kriyananda realized who and what his guru really was, “whose consciousness was in the very air I breathed!”

We will explore the inner reality of a true guru in the following slides.

Slide 3: A Clean, Spotless Window

Look through a clean window. When you admire a sunny panorama through that window, would you ever say, “What beautiful glass that is?” Hardly. The beauty of the window lies in the fact that it isn’t obstructing the pure and brilliant sunlight behind it. It allows you to fully bask in the light coming through it. The satguru is like that window: the egoless state allows the light of God to fully shine through, blessing you. That light is never his own. This is why Yogananda always affirmed, “I am not the guru. God is the true guru.”

Think about that window when you look at a picture of Yogananda or any of the great saints or masters. You may soon realize why the Indian scripture Guru Gita describes the guru as the dispeller of darkness – gu meaning darkness, and ru meaning that which dispels.

Slide 4: A Transmitting Station

The Bible provides us with the most important reason for having a satguru:

But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.

The guru, as we have said, offers not his own power but is an instrument, a transmitting station, for the grace of God. God’s direct cosmic voltage would just blow us away. The guru channels that cosmic voltage so that the disciples can receive it.

The guru is an instrument for the grace of God.
The guru teaches the secrets of developing our inner power until we can stand unshaken amidst the crash of breaking worlds.

Disciples often find that through the power of the guru they can accomplish things they never thought possible for them.

The need for a guru is affirmed in the life of Jesus. Jesus asked John to baptize him. “Thus,” he explained, “It becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”

In India, the transmission of power from the guru is called shaktipad. Is this transmission possible without his physical presence and touch? Yes, it is absolutely possible through our inner attunement. In short, we need the guru’s power to become the sons and daughters of God.

Slide 5: A Powerful Magnet

Our attunement is central. It helps us to receive another important blessing from a true guru. A constant powerful current flows upward toward the spiritual eye within his or her body, the door of heaven. The disciple, placing his consciousness close to the guru through inner attunement, experiences in his own body that same blessed, ascending flow. The guru, in other words, acts like a strong magnet that magnetizes the attuned disciple like a bar of steel.

These effects of attunement do not work only in the case of gurus. For example, if with love and devotion you deeply tune into an excellent piano player, his inner spark will jump over to you and your own piano playing will mightily improve. You can apply that same principle to anything — to genial scientists, victorious sportsmen, fantastic artists, outstanding technicians, or exceptional cooks.

The point is, we need the magnetic uplifting influence of the guru to raise our consciousness toward the limitless regions.

Slide 6: A Spool of Twine

The spiritual path is intended to take us from untruth—illusion (maya) to Truth. For us to find our way out of the ever-bewitching world of maya is such a daunting task. It is like trying to find the way out of a labyrinth. Where to go? Where to turn? What to do?

The labyrinth in Greek mythology is a perfect image. It was so intricate that no one, once inside it, had ever been able to find their way out again. Theseus alone succeeded. How did he do it? Theseus carried a spool of twine with him and unwound it as he moved through the labyrinth.  He found his way once more into the open by following the unwound string to retrace his steps.

The guru is like that lifesaving length of twine. Mental attunement with the guru helps us to find our way. Attunement also helps us to know whether the choices we have are the right or wrong ones for us. We feel the guru’s natural inner guidance, confidence, and a sense of protection as we move through life.

This is Yogananda’ s promise to his disciples:

To those of you who have asked me
To guide you to my Beloved’s presence:
I will warn you through my silently talking mind,
Or speak to you through a gentle significant glance,
Or whisper to you through my love,
Or loudly dissuade you when you stray away from Him.

 Slide 7: A Gemologist

A true guru is like an expert gemologist who helps you avoid costly mistakes during the purchase of precious stones. A gemologist easily distinguishes between genuine stones and imitations. If you go to buy an expensive gemstone but scorn the expert advice, you may find that you have spent a great deal of money for nothing. This would be an unfortunate waste.

Our mistakes in life can indeed be costly, not only financially but also spiritually, with long-lasting effects. They can even set us back in our spiritual efforts for incarnations. Why not avoid the blunders that our egos so easily make?

Slide 8: A Paved Highway

A true guru is also precious for another reason. The guru offers us specific techniques that accelerate our inner growth. The spiritual path without these helpful techniques is like trying to walk in quicksand when there is a paved highway very nearby.

So why not take advantage of guru-given meditations and techniques? Why remain in the slow and rusty bullock cart or struggle in the quicksand?

Slide 9: The Strong Fighter

We get yet another blessing from having a true guru. Karma sometimes mercilessly hits us as we move along the path of life and beats us up. Imagine a tag team fight—if the weaker fighter is about to be terribly hit, the stronger fighter can step in and take that blow upon himself. This is exactly what the guru does with certain devastating karmic blows. The guru steps in and absorbs the blow.

In fact, the bond of guru and disciple is not what people often imagine. People may imagine that it is the relationship between master and slave. Nothing could be more misconstrued.  The guru and disciple share an eternal bond of Divine Love and unconditional friendship.

Slide 10: The Soul Birds

Out of Love, the guru is eager to set the disciple free. Our consciousness right now is locked in a tiny cage of body awareness, karma, and limited personality. We suffer as long as we are trapped in that tiny cage. The true guru’s role is to open the cage and free the soul-bird to fly again.

Why not fly? Why not allow the guru to open the cage? It is no wonder that the famous Adi Shankaracharya wrote this in his Century of Verses:

No known comparison exists in the three worlds
for a true guru.
If the philosophers’ stone
be assumed as truly such,
it can only turn iron into gold,
not into another philosophers’ stone.
The venerated teacher, on the other hand,
creates equality with himself
in the disciple who takes refuge at his feet.
The guru is therefore peerless,
nay, transcendental.

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  1. Jayadev,

    An outstanding explanation of how important a Guru is to our progression on the spiritual path. Such a clear and creative format, makes it easy to grasp what are in fact deep and profound concepts. Thank you!

  2. I, as a person who has never had any interest in money, would really like to ‘get a guru’. The limiting factor for me is that all the ‘ashrams’, excepting those o Sai Baba, require relatively large monthly payments from the students, which rules me out, and till now, I have found no answer to this hurdle.

    1. Dear Charles, You don’t need to enter an ashram to truly and deeply follow a Guru. Countless devotees live in their own homes. The Guru-discipleship relationship has nothing to do with institutional affiliation. It is of the heart. It is saying “yes” to being guided, being open, being disciplined, being attuned, being always connected within. The key to discipleship is love, and you don’t need any money for that. Go for it!

  3. I am nobody in front of you all.
    It is Guru’s grace that I receive such wonderful articles.
    Jaydeo, you are Great !!!!!!

  4. Thank you, Jayadev. That was enlightened.
    Beautiful and unique way to describe the need for a guru.

  5. Jayadev, thank you! I will keep this and re-read it because I am gripped with doubt from time to time even though I’m a kriyaban and do love the Guru. This is a very good explanation of the purpose of a Guru and I hope that many, many people will be able to see it.

  6. The Guru and the purpose of a Guru is an interesting topic to discuss. When we adore a guru, we are not adoring his body, personality, or ego; we are using his personality as a gateway to eternity. This is most important to understand, for neither the disciple nor the guru should think that it is the guru’s external form that is being adored. The form is only a passing phenomenon, an illusion. The Self-realised Master has no ego. He is the Effortless Awareness itself, watching the operation of the body, mind, and intellect. Through the form, we try to grasp the presence of the Divine. It is through the guru that we discover the Divine Self in the temple of our own heart. God assumes the role of guru to draw us out of the confines of the ego, and lead us to the realm of the transcendental Self, and as we advance, God as the indweller within our heart continues to inspire us, infusing us with spiritual aspiration. Then, in the state of enlightenment, we realize, “I am the ever-present Self.” The duality of guru-discipleship terminates. You have discovered your essential unity with God. Aum Guru!

  7. Jayadev,
    What a beautiful expression of the Guru. Thank you !

  8. Dear Jayadev, is it necessary to be physically in the presence of a guru?
    There were moments when I was deeply inspired by just by looking at a photo of our Divine Swami Yogananda.
    Thank you for the great article on Gurus. Have a divine Guru Purnima day on July 23.

    1. Hello Vis,
      You and I and all members of Ananda are in the unique position of not ever seeing the Gurus. This Karmic reality is set up for us so that we can show the strength and lifelong devotion that it takes to be a good disciple and still not see the flesh of the Gurus. You are a special person to have felt the blessings and connection to the Master through his picture so continue to look in his eyes and feel him throughout the day and in meditation. Stand tall next to the Gurus and they will show you the way and give you the joy of the Guru disciple relationship. Yogananda said, “To those who think me near, I am near”. This is a real and simple way to know Him better. Think that he is with you and guiding you. In my nearly 50 years with Master, the love and understanding has steadily grown. Be with Him and He will be with you.

  9. Thank you Jayadev for the beautiful content and layout of this article. Very inspiring. Jai Guru!

  10. AUM GURU🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻..this email can’t be a coincidence🙏🏻..

  11. Hi,
    This was a great article clarifying points about Guru Disciple relationship. I also really like the format you use. Thanks for the inspiration and God bless

    Cyril ( Ireland )

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