11. The Guru and Sagehood
Q: Does the guru have to have a human body?
M: Because you identify yourself with your body you ask this question. Find out if you are the body. The Bhagavad Gita says that those who cannot understand the transcendental nature of Sri Krishna are fools, deluded by ignorance. The master appears in order to dispel that ignorance. As Tayumanavar puts it, he appears to dispel a person’s ignorance, just as a deer is used as a decoy to capture another deer in the jungle. The master has to appear with a body in order to eradicate our ignorance, the ‘I am the body’ idea.
Q: Is a teacher necessary?
M: With any kind of physical and mental training we look for a competent teacher – the same rule applies to spiritual matters.
Q: Is a guru needed for spiritual progress?
M: Yes, but the guru is within you; he is one with your own Self.
Q: Is the guru necessary?
M: Yes, the guru is necessary. He shows the road to the Self and carries a light for you. The guru sees all people as the Self. To him there are none who are ignorant; he finds no difference between them and himself.
Q: Is a guru absolutely necessary?
M: So long as duality persists in you, a guru is necessary. Take the guru to be the Self, and yourself to be the individual self. Because you identify yourself with the body you think the guru is also somebody, but you are not the body and neither is the guru. This knowledge that you are the Self and so is the guru is gained by what you call realization.
Q: How can we meet the appointed guru?
M: Intense meditation brings about the consummation. The sage’s glance has a purifying effect.If you understand your own reality, the rishi’s reality will be clear to you. There is only one Master and that is the Self. The One Initiator works through all the gurus in the world, thus there is no difference between them and Him. He bestows His teaching and initiation – which is the highest – in silence.
Q: How can one identify a competent guru?
M: By the peace of mind in his presence and by the sense of respect you feel for him.