Do You Need a Guru?

A close friend once wrote to me about her dilemma:

They say you get a guru when it’s the right time. Some say you always have a guru – you just need to identify him. Learning from nature is fine, identifying a guru in situations and people around is again fine – but it is easier said than done, isn’t it? If there is someone who physically holds your ears and tells you – that you are foolish running after this, or this is just an illusion, beware! – then progress would be faster isn’t it? Sometimes I feel so lost, I just feel there should be some guru in human form to guide me through.

My reply to her:

A really good question indeed.

The answer is surprisingly simple. You need a guru because you think you are lost. But when you realize who you are, you SEE and that’s it. Then there is no need for a guru.

As they say in Zen Buddhism, one has to pass through the gateless gate. Once you pass through the gate, you realize there was no gate in the first place. The gate, the passing, the person who shows the path to the gate – all was just a dream.

In other Buddhist symbolism, the enlightenment is likened to crossing a river. The teachings are a raft on which you cross. But when you reach the other bank, you realize there was no river at all, no crossing, no raft, no guru.

To a normal (actually abnormal) mind which is trained in duality and conceptual thinking, such ideas as the above seem paradoxical. And therefore, one keeps on searching for a guru who can explain this paradox and sort out matters. But in actuality, the only hurdle one has to cross is one’s own mind and one’s own conceptual thinking.

Even the guru cannot help someone who is not ready to listen. And what is listening? It is not understanding in terms of concepts and logical ideas. Listening is having no mind to analyze and judge. When your mind stops analyzing; when it listens with its senses, then you are present in the NOW and you do not need to go anywhere else. You have reached home.

Now if you are able to listen deeply to what I have said, you can see immediately the truth of it and the falsity of a guru.

The mind describes a desired outcome and seeks it constantly. And when it is lost, as it usually is, it searches for a guide. But if only we can drop the search, knowing that it is only the restless mind at work, we can remain in the present moment.

How can there be a path and direction to come to the present moment?

It is possible that one hears some teachings of a particular man and gets the insight. Then that man becomes a guru for him but that is only as a mark of respect. The real work was done by the person who listened, not by the guru. Therefore, they say that one can learn from nature because nature changes every moment and if you follow the previous moment, you are dreaming. As soon as you realize you are dreaming, you are already awake. That’s all.

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