Question: Do you think an aspirant needs a living Guru for realisation?

Sri Chinmoy: To be very frank with you, a living Guru is not absolutely indispensable in order to realise God. The first person who realised God on earth, the very first realised soul, had no human Guru. He had only God as his Guru.

If you have a Guru, however, it facilitates your inner spiritual progress. A Guru is your private tutor in the spiritual life. At every moment in life's journey, ignorance tries to test you, examine you and torture you, but this private tutor will teach you how to pass the examination most easily. If you have a private tutor for any subject, you know how much help you can get. Moreover, once you get into your Guru's boat, he will take you to the Golden Shore. You can sing on the boat, you can dance, you can even sleep; but he will take you safely to the Goal.

It is absurd to feel that for everything else in life we need a teacher but not for God-realisation. Why does one go to the university when he can study at home? It is because he feels that he will get expert instruction from people who know the subject well. If someone is wise enough and wants to run towards his Goal instead of stumbling or merely walking, then certainly he will take the help of a Guru. But again, God is in everybody, and if one feels that he does not need human help, he is most welcome to try his capacity alone.

If someone becomes a true disciple of a Master, he does not feel that he and his Guru are two totally different beings. He does not feel that his Guru is at the top of the tree and he is at the foot of the tree, all the time washing the feet of the Guru. No, he feels that the Guru is his own highest part. He feels that he and the Guru are one, that the Guru is his own highest and most developed part. Therefore, a true disciple does not find any difficulty in surrendering his lowest part to his highest part. It is not beneath his dignity, because he knows that both the highest and the lowest are his very own.

Sri Chinmoy, Promised Light from the Beyond, AUM Publications, New York, 1973