The following pages are excerpted from Sri Chinmoy's book, The Master and the Disciple.
As we need teachers for our outer knowledge—to illumine our outer being—so also we need a spiritual Master to help and guide us in our inner life, especially in the beginning. Otherwise, our progress will be very slow and uncertain, and we may become terribly confused. We will get high, elevating experiences, but we will not give them adequate significance. Doubt may eclipse our mind and we will say, “I am just an ordinary person, so how can I have this kind of experience? Perhaps I am deluding myself.” Or we will tell our friends, and they will say, “It is all mental hallucination. Forget about the spiritual life.” But if there is someone who knows what the Reality is, he will say, “Don’t act like a fool. The experiences which you have had are absolutely real.” The Master will encourage and inspire the seeker and give him the proper explanations of his experiences. Again, if the seeker is doing something wrong in his meditation, the Master will be in a position to correct him.
Why does one go to the university when one can study at home? It is because he feels that he will get expert instruction from people who know the subject well. Now you know that there have been a few—very, very few—real men of knowledge who did not go to any university. Yes, there are exceptions. Every rule admits of exceptions. God is in everybody, and if a seeker feels that he does not need human help, he is most welcome to try his capacity alone. But if someone is wise and wants to run toward his Goal, instead of stumbling or merely walking, then certainly the help of a Guru can be considerable.
Let us say that I am in London. I know that New York exists and that I have to go back there. What do I need to get me there? An airplane and a pilot. In spite of the fact that I know that New York exists, I cannot get there alone. Similarly, you know that God exists. You want to reach God, but someone has to take you there. As the airplane takes me to New York, someone has to carry you to the Consciousness of God which is deep within you. Someone has to show you how to enter into your own divinity, which is God.