Question: What advice do you have for a seeker who feels he is not making progress?

Sri Chinmoy: If the seeker has a Master, then he has to go to the Master, who is his spiritual doctor. If you are a patient, you go to your own doctor. He knows all about your symptoms and sicknesses, because he has given you medicine quite a few times. He knows you much better than other doctors, for they have not treated you. So your best doctor at that time will be your own Teacher.

Now, if you do not have a Teacher, then it is a different case. Here I wish to advise you that if you do not have a Teacher and you feel you are not making satisfactory progress, then you should try to find a Teacher. A Teacher is the only person who can help you in making inner progress. But if you say, “I don’t have a Teacher, and I don’t need a Teacher, and I want to make progress all by myself,” I wish to say your progress will be very slow.

It is not that if you pray to God all by yourself you will not realise God. He who realised God for the first time on earth didn’t have a human being as a Guru. But in this life everyone has to be wise. If I am in need of knowledge and inner wisdom, and if I find someone who is in a position to teach me — someone who has studied and learned it a few days, a few months or a few years before me — then I feel that there is nothing wrong with taking his help.

A real spiritual Teacher will never claim the seeker’s illumination. I always say that the seeker has a box inside his heart and inside the box is the treasure, but the key has unfortunately been misplaced. The Master shows the disciple how to open the box and then the seeker finds the treasure. Whose treasure is it? It is the seeker’s; the Master has no claim on it whatsoever. The student feels that it is his treasure and he will utilise it. It is like this. Suppose I had something and I have lost it and somebody comes and tells me that he will be able to help me find it. If I am wise, immediately I will take his help and then once I have found it, it is I who will claim it as my very own.

Here we have to know the difference between a school teacher and a spiritual Teacher. The school teacher will give marks according to your merit. If you do well in your studies he will pass you, and if you don’t do well, then he will fail you. But a spiritual Teacher is not like that. He is like a private tutor. He is not going to give you marks. On the contrary, he will teach you privately and secretly so that you can pass your examination when you stand face to face with ignorance-sea.

To come back to your question, if you have a Teacher, please go to the Teacher. He is absolutely the right person to help you. If you do not have a Teacher then you should find one in whom you can have implicit faith. Now if you say you don’t want to have one but you want to make proper progress, then you should at least mix with the disciples of some other Masters. You don’t have to follow any path. If you mix with some seekers who are following a specific path, from them you will get some help, although not abundant or infinite help. If you can make friends with them, their very presence will inspire you and kindle the flame of aspiration within you. Then you will be able to walk or march along your own spiritual path.