A friend recently wrote to me asking:
My question is about the role of the teacher. When you read about spiritual practice it seems to me that most writers consider the intimate contact with a living (enlightened) teacher to be necessary. Since I don’t have a teacher and I can’t see how to meet one anytime soon (living in a small town far away from anyone in the least interested in atma-vichara) these writers create a nagging doubt in me. Am I just fooling myself? Should I just give up and live my life to the best of my ability and try to be ‘normal’?In reply to this I wrote as follows:
People who talk of the need for a ‘living’ guru have clearly failed to understand the true nature of guru, and when they have failed to understand this they also fail to understand the true role of guru.
As Sri Sadhu Om used to say, guru alone is living, and we are all dead. That is, guru is the one ever-living reality, and we who have forgotten this reality are in effect dead, because we take this mortal body to be ourself.
Sri Ramana always emphasised that guru is not a body but the eternal self, and since self is immortal, guru is by definition ever living.