Joel Martin: When one wants to learn meditation, must a spiritual Master teach it to you? If so, how does he do it?

Sri Chinmoy: If one wants to learn how to drive, is it not advisable for him to take at least a few lessons from someone who knows how to drive? Otherwise, he will be given the car and immediately he will have an accident and return to God in Heaven before he realises God here on earth. In spirituality also one can make deplorable mistakes if one does not know what one is doing. Spirituality is not an easy thing. If one wants to learn it well, one should take help. You went to college and university to get your highest diploma; then you gave up your studies and started your own life.

In life you take some help for everything. In order to become a singer, dancer or anything in life, you take some help. Then when you become well acquainted with that subject, you stop going to the teacher. When it is a matter of spirituality, sometimes I hear people say that they do not want to take lessons, or that they feel they do not need a teacher. But usually they are making a mistake. True, there are some exceptions. Every rule admits of some exceptions. There are a few individuals, like Tagore and a few others, who have not gone to school. You know that Tagore became an extraordinary writer. But how many Tagores are there on earth? Most human beings have to go to school in order to get help. If they do not take help from the teachers, they may run into difficulty.

In the spiritual life also, if the seeker does not take help, then he may have some difficulties, some serious doubts about his own spiritual life, and then he will give up. He will think that it is impossible for him to practise spirituality, since there are so many doubts and so many wrong things in his life. But if there is a spiritual Master, the Master will always encourage him and help him. The spiritual Master is not actually a teacher; he is a tutor. The teacher examines you, and he will either pass you in the examination or he will fail you, according to your merit. But the business of a tutor is to help you so that you can pass your examination in the school. A real spiritual Master is a private tutor; he is always trying to help you out.