Question: I should like to ask also whether man may achieve this enlightenment by himself or whether, for most people, it is necessary to communicate with a Master, a Guru./Sri Chinmoy: Thank you. Now, the first person who realised God on earth — whom did he have as a Master? Nobody. God came to him inwardly as a Guide, as his Inner Pilot. That is why he was able to realise the highest truth in God.
But now what do we see here on earth? We know that Mother-Earth has been blessed with many, many spiritual Masters down the sweep of centuries. We have to know what kind of teacher the spiritual Master is. Is he a school teacher or a college professor? A spiritual teacher is a private tutor. A professor will examine the student. He will pass him or fail him. He is entitled to do so; he is competent. He sees the papers of the student and then, if the student does well, he will give him good marks. If he does not do well, he will fail him. A private tutor does not do that, as you know. He encourages, inspires and helps the student at home wholeheartedly so that he can pass the examination well. Now, the business of the spiritual teacher is to inspire and arouse the aspiration in the seeker so that he can realise the Highest at God's choice Hour.
For everything you need a teacher. If you want to learn how to sing, you need a teacher. If you want to swim well, you need a teacher, specially at the beginning. Here, you want to have knowledge. That is why you have come to this university. Now, you know that there have been very few, very, very few, real men of knowledge who did not attend any university. There are exceptions. Every rule admits of exceptions. As I said, the first individual who realised God — whom did he have as a teacher? Nobody. But again, we see that for most things we need a teacher. To learn the ABC's, we need a teacher. To learn higher mathematics, we need a teacher. If you want to acquire scientific knowledge, you need a teacher. For everything we need a teacher. God-Knowledge is also a kind of knowledge. It is called Spiritual Discovery. For that, if you take help from a spiritual teacher, then it facilitates your journey. It expedites your journey. Now, if you say that you want to swim alone across the sea of ignorance, then it is up to you. But how many years, or how many incarnations, will it take?
A spiritual Master will come to you with a boat. He will say, "Come. If you want to go, I have the boat. You be seated here. I will take you." Now it is up to you. You may say, "No. I don't need anybody's help." If you want to swim across alone, you can. But it may happen that after swimming for some time, you will be totally exhausted and then you may drown; whereas, if you have a boat, you have a fair chance of reaching the other shore, the Golden Shore.
So, as we need teachers for our outer knowledge, to illumine our outer being, so also we need a spiritual Master to help us, to guide us, in our inner life. In that way we expedite our journey.