(From the book “Guru Ramana”)
All scriptures recommend spiritual teachers. The guru is none other than the goal we seek, the Pure Blissful Self. As the spiritual seeker’s mind is bent outward, the Self takes a human shape as a guru to help drive it inward. God, Self or guru appears as a human to dispel the ignorance of the seeker. Just as a deer is used as a decoy to capture a wild deer, he has to appear in a body to dispel the “I-am-the-body” notion of the seeker.
Only a guru can take a seeker out of the jungle of intellectual gymnastics and sense perceptions.
Guru is the Self or the absolute Truth. First a person prays to God to fulfill his desires. A time comes when he will no more pray for the fulfillment of material desires, but for God Himself. He thus becomes a seeker of Truth or Self-realization. God then appears to him in some form or other, human or non-human, to guide him to Himself in answer to his prayers and according to his needs.
Masters do exist externally as long as the seeker feels himself to be the body. As such they are useful to teach him the truth about himself. Once the seeker experiences the Truth and breaks the body illusion, he realizes the Master to be the same as himself, namely, the Pure Blissful Awareness or the Self. If there are Masters outside the Self, they are not real; being external additions, for he who comes will also go, is limited by time and is impermanent.
Too much dependency on the manifest Master would prevent the disciple from contacting the inner source. Three things there are that when too close are harmful, when too far are useless and are best when kept at middle distance: fire, the government and the Guru (spiritual Master).
Our Atmarama (the Real Self) itself is the ultimate Guru.