Do You Need a Guru?

Sunday Service Week 30: Do You Need a Guru?

Reading from Rays of the One Light

Truth is one and eternal. Realize oneness with it in your deathless Self, within.

The following commentary is based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.

Many people scoff at the idea of having a guru. True to human nature generally, they make a virtue of their scoffing. “I am responsible for what I do,” they announce, “responsible for my mistakes as well as for my victories. What would I ever learn if I handed over my development to someone else? To depend on another for guidance would be an act of spiritual cowardice.”

It would be understandable for someone gifted with some trivial ability, for instance with words, to insist on doing his crossword puzzle himself without letting anyone else help him. But supposing, even in such trivial matters, he had no such gift? What virtue would there be in refusing to learn? For that matter, moreover, where do our gifts come from? They are not a native ability. Still, crossword puzzles are hardly an important challenge. What if a person wanted to do something daring: to climb a cliff, for instance, but refused to study the art of mountain climbing? He would climb at the risk of his life.

And how much more is risked than physical life in the great adventure of the divine search, where the risk is to salvation itself! Where is the sacrifice in seeking guidance? Even a mountain guide wouldn’t presume to do one’s climbing for one; his purpose would be only to help the neophyte to climb safely. To have a wise guru is not a sign of weakness, but of plain common sense.

All the saints, aware as they are of the hazards of the adventure, agree on the importance of having a guide, or guru. And these are the heroes speaking, not cowards or spiritual weaklings.

Jesus emphasized the importance of having a teacher by asking John to baptize him. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 3, we read of his coming to John. “Thus,” Jesus said to John, “it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”

In the Bhagavad Gita, the fourth Chapter, Sri Krishna says:

Open thyself to those who have attained wisdom. They will be thy teachers. Ask questions of them [both verbally and mentally]. Serve them faithfully, and with devotion.

How is the devotee to recognize one who has attained wisdom? The Bhagavad Gita gives us this inspiring description of the sage:

       By this sign is he known,

Being of equal grace to comrades, friends,
Chance-comers, strangers, lovers, enemies,
Aliens and kinsmen; loving all alike,
Evil or good.

Thus, through holy scripture, God has spoken to mankind.

Reading from Affirmations for Self-Healing

Non-injury is a fundamental rule in the spiritual life. It means primarily an attitude of mind. Outwardly, one cannot avoid doing a certain amount of injury-for example, to flying insects when driving one’s car. The harm one does, however, by wishing harm to others hurts not only them, but even more especially, oneself. Spiritually, a harmful attitude separates one from the harmony and oneness of life.

Non-injury, on the other hand, embraces that oneness, and is in turn sustained by it. Non-injury is a powerful force for victory, for it enlists cooperation from the very universe, where harmfulness incites endless opposition.

Practice this affirmation out loud, guided by Swami Kriyananda

I send out the rain of blessings to all, that love be nourished in hearts that, heretofore, have known only hate.


Divine Mother, when others seek to hurt me, give me the wisdom to see that victory lies in blessing them, not in revenge. If I respond with anger, the loss will be mine, even if mine also is the outward victory, for inwardly I will have been hurt indeed. But if I return blessings for their blows, I shall remain ever safe within the impregnable walls of my inner peace.

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