Gurus are absolutely useless to the spiritual seeker.
They are also extremely valuable.
The paradox lies in the reality that the guru can only point the way. You’ll have to walk the path, take the journey, and come to God on your own terms. No one else can do it for you, even a self-realized being of the highest level.
And yet, how very valuable it is to have a guru walk ahead of you, cheering and helping you on, inspiring and challenging you to keep moving forward.
In this light, a guru is nothing more than an advanced student, one who has realized their own nature and stuck around to help others do the same. This is a healthy way to approach gurus and can help minimize any potential for abuse.
Conversely, some choose to follow the bakthi path, where the guru is worshiped in absolute devotion.
With bakthi, love for the master acts as a bridge between the practitioner and God.
This form of spiritual practice has led to a lot of abuse by those who take advantage of naive seekers for their own selfish gains. Hence the popularity of “guru rating” services.
Do you need a guru?
The truth is that no one needs a guru, though they can prove very useful.
The path to God is a reclamation of your REAL nature. Where can it be found? Within! A guru can only remind you of the same and demonstrate what it means to walk the path.
This said, one can get a “taste” for Spirit by hanging around an awakened being. Gurus are like empty cups being overfilled with water (Spirit) — one can’t help but get a little wet around them.
There’s value in being able to experience this “Buddha-field” as it is a powerful reminder of who you truly are and where you’re heading, though it is by no means a necessity.
A few will become Bakthi practitioners and devote themselves to a guru.
The majority of earnest seekers will choose one of the many other available spiritual paths. For them, gurus will remain important sources of assistance, inspiration and accomplishment, though with the understanding that they are imperfect human beings, as we all are. Only Spirit is perfect.
“There are no Masters living in the world, for Mastery is attained beyond the world. There are advanced students. There are students of great accomplishment. But there are no Masters living in the world. Perfection is not found here, only contribution…” — The New Message from God