The desire to find a spiritual teacher or Guru is usually innate in the spiritual seeker who yearns not only for a mentor but for a spiritual ‘parent’ above and beyond all the skills and the limitations of physical parents, friends, guides and teachers.
Many of us are enriched through our education and our selected reading that encourages and inspires us to feel confident about living our lives. We are satisfied by making contact with other and sometimes similar people, philosophies and principles but rely upon our inner voice of intuition.
However, it is natural that we wish to know someone more advanced than ourselves who can extend a benign influence and act as our life guide, able to give us encouragement to validate our own efforts and clearly point the way. We also need to know that there are progressive degrees of accomplishment towards human perfection and that varying heights already attained by others, can become realistic goals for ourselves.
The spiritual Guru is such an example of a human being who has grown in wisdom beyond the stature of others around him and is therefore equipped to guide others towards similar increased spiritual understanding. In Indian culture it is traditional to seek such a teacher when individual practical life responsibilities have been fulfilled. It is not advisable, although westerners are sometimes moved to do the same, to assume that such a custom is rewarded. It is not necessary to break our western traditions and to attempt to emulate other customs. We also have our wisdom and spiritual teachings of universal truths.
However, some journey abroad to seek their Guru and many are disappointed in their spiritual aim. Perhaps this is because there exists a natural law by which Guru and chela meet and it is likely that it is the Guru who determines that meeting point. This is a law not restricted to nationality or culture, but is a purely spiritual factor, universal in its nature.
Spiritual Gurus do not seek devotees who adhere to and rely upon them. Gurus do not appreciate being made an idol or being ‘put on a pedestal’ but are most pleased when their pupils mature to stand on their own feet as independent and whole human beings. Only poor teachers allow themselves to become the support upon which their students rely. They desire only a loyalty and faithfulness deserving of any friend and teacher within that special relationship.
Although great spiritual teachers welcome followers, and are happy to lead the way and to take the role of generators of spiritual energy, all insist that we as individuals can only grow by our own efforts. So it is that each great religion instructs that the spiritual life must be balanced by the practical application of principles in daily life.
We may not be fortunate enough to meet such a noble human being to direct us in our deepest needs as our spiritual guide but our Guru exists in the subtler realms nevertheless. We gradually become more aware of this, usually in our meditations.
Until the time comes that we meet the One who embodies our concept of human perfection itself, we must remain true to the object of our religious devotion and continue to learn from those of our fellow beings who express one facet or another of those qualities that give evidence of the spiritual proving greater than the physical outer husk. Our greatest comfort is in remembering the wisdom already known to us, and that in the meantime, great Nature endures as our ever-present Guide.