Part IV — Questions and answers: Southern Methodist University

Question: How important do you think it is to have a spiritual teacher if one is very eager to make fast progress? And also, how long does one have to stay with the teacher?

Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on how sincerely the seeker wants to go to the highest plane of consciousness, how deeply he needs Peace, Light and Bliss. If his need is great, he will immediately try to get someone who can be of help to him. If he feels the necessity of making the fastest progress, then a teacher is of paramount importance, for even if he is able to make some inner progress alone, he may be doubtful of his achievement. If he has an experience, he may doubt the experience or not know its actual significance. A teacher is bound to clarify his experiences and expedite his inner progress. In the ordinary life, a teacher examines you and either passes or fails you. But a spiritual teacher is more like a private tutor. He does not examine. He just teaches his students how to pass God's examination.

A teacher is necessary unless and until we have reached our own highest goal. In the ordinary life, we start our schooling with kindergarten, and progress to the university. Once we complete our course in the university, we do not go to school any more. In fact, we may become teachers ourselves. Similarly, once we have reached the highest Absolute, we no longer need a teacher.