The guru is a living Scripture. He speaks from the same perception of Truth as that of any great master who ever lived before him. The source of his wisdom, and theirs, is the same. The truth in the Bible, even through a great Scripture, comes to us filtered. Moreover, the teaching in the Scriptures is for everybody. It is not particularized to the needs of the individual seeker. For all of these reasons, a guru is necessary.
The most important reason for having a guru, however, is stated in the Bible itself. It says there, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” (John 1:12) The guru gives his disciple not only teaching and guidance: He also transmits to him spiritual power.
Unfortunately it’s all too common for disciples to act as if the guru were some sort of heavenly slave, always doing them little favors. You find this sort of person saying, “Oh, Yogananda did this for me, or, Yogananda did that for me.” They don’t understand what Yogananda is. They reduce him to the level of a human personality, when he is so much more.
A true disciple should not be thinking of himself and the guru as human beings who reside in time and space. We should think of ourselves in a more impersonal way. We should try always to develop those inner spiritual qualities to such an impersonal degree that our love for the guru is no longer the love of a human being for another human being. It’s the love of the Infinite for the Infinite. We are not just humble little devotees stumbling along making mistakes. We are that Infinite Light. We are that Infinite Wisdom. We are that Divine Soul.
Yogananda’s mission was to show us that we are that. Until we achieve that realization, we will not have fulfilled to perfection this most wonderful of all relationships — the relationship of the guru and the disciple.
From Lessons in Discipleship, by Swami Kriyananda, 1995