Without having a teacher, it is very difficult, to gain knowledge of something. The only other method is that one tries to learn from one’s own personal experience and endeavor. Having a teacher has the advantage of some one’s else’s knowledge and experience to add to one’s own personal knowledge and experience. The effort and endeavor are still the same. There are many types of teachers,
- A trusted counselor and advisor.
- A personal spiritual teacher.
- A teacher and guide in spiritual and philosophical matters.
- A recognized leader in a field.
- An acknowledged and influential advocate, as of a movement or idea.
The definition of ‘teacher’, which is applicable to our current time, place and circumstance, is:
“One who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others. Other forms of manifestation of the principle of a teachers and/or instructor also include,
- School Non-human objects, like books.
- Other sentient living entity.
- One’s own intellectual discipline.
- One’s own personal experience.”
Finding a teacher or instructor in regards to mundane subject matters is not very hard; however, it still does require one to discriminate and to evaluate a potential teacher or instructor. When it comes to spiritual subject matter, we can draw a logical conclusion, and that is,
“Surrendering to a guru is not the same as surrendering to teachers and instructors who teach mundane knowledge.”
How can one recognize who is genuine and who is a phony? Naturally, we are encouraged to recognize topmost teachers and/or instructors when we seek mundane education; and that is no different in spiritual subject matter. This then is one’s own responsibility, yours and only yours.
A guru should teach and instruct with logic and reason, which is based on Sastra.
This guru is therefore not on the platform of blind faith, they are, sane and rational human beings. An advanced guru can also address and answer the questions on apparent differences of opinions. Guru can also answer all questions, and remove any doubts one may have. These are the most important criteria, all which can be verified.
What is important to understand is that personal association with a prospective guru can only accomplish this verification. You cannot allow anyone to tell you that any particular person has these attributes. You have to do the verification. If you allow someone else to verify for you, then you would be gambling with your spiritual life.
ISKCON GBC in 1978 made their biggest mistake when they “rubber-stamped” the original 11 gurus. 9 of these men fell from grace due to various heinous activity. The remaining 2 are questionable, to say the least. Also, some of the subsequent appointed Gurus have had the same fate. So why would future disciples in ISKCON allow the GBC to tell them who is qualified; when in fact, the GBC has made so many mistakes.
Having someone else think for you is not being a Vaisnava who acts in the mode of goodness; you would be acting in the mode of passion and ignorance.
An advanced guru does not say,
“I am not a big philosopher but I am a Plato man true and through”.
How can one be a Plato man without being a philosopher? The world is already stressed with these kinds of sentimental feelings, full of passionate intensity, but irrational, when subjected to analytical scrutiny. We have nothing against passionate intensity, as long as it is rational. The world is full of gurus who claim, or are marketed by their disciples, as,
- An Uttama Vaisnava,
- A Maha-bhagavata Vaisnava,
- A paramahamsa Vaisnava,
- An internal associate of Krishna or Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
When you encounter such a guru, or the disciples of the guru who are selling him as such; then you know for sure that this guru is bogus.