Alexander Smit, on whether the Guru is really necessary
Most spiritual "searchers" have a conflict. The conflict expresses
itself through the idea that they have to do it all by themselves, that
no help is to be expected from the "outside," which implies that a
teacher is not needed.
There is another group, just as big, that is convinced that you do
need a master, that you can't do it without a guru. Both comparisons
are faulty, because the truth never lies in the middle, the truth is
Therefore, it's better to say: "What I need, is someone who shows
me that I don't need anyone." And that is paradoxical. But that's what
truth is like, because if you only take one side of the story – I need
a guru, I need a teacher – and you're obsessed by that, then sooner or
later the other side emerges. And when you cling to the idea that it's
all useless, that you can do it yourself, you're stuck again. That's
because you only choose one side of the story, time after time.
Fact is, they're both true. You need a teacher, and you don't. The
description I like most, is that you need someone to show you that you
don't need anyone. Deep down, in your heart, you know that. And because
this lives deep in you, there are moments that you don't need anyone
but there are moments too, that you think you don't know it anymore, or
you are uncertain, or you need comforting, or you want to know how
things work, or you want insight in everything, and then you lean over
to the other side and say: "I need a guru, a teacher, I need someone
who can show me how it works."
The one that can put an end to that conflict is a true master.
Someone who is free from ideas like "guru" or "non-guru." Someone who
can be a guru at one moment, and a "non-guru" at another moment.
Someone who can demonstrate a great flexibility. When you think a guru
is needed, and the teacher says: "No guru is needed," there will be
conflict. And when, a month later, you think: "All this shit with
gurus, all that spiritual hocus-pocus, I quit, it's all useless," there
will be conflict too, because then the other side shows up.
Because both sides are true! Existence is more than adding up all
parts. When you don't try to fight the conflict anymore, when you don't
try to avoid it any longer, you're on unknown grounds, from where you
know, deep down, that a teacher is a means to realize what you already
are. Then you know: "This is the one to show me that I don't need
But when in conflict, or in doubt, you lean over to the other side,
and you feel that you have to make a choice again. This feeling of
having to make a choice is rooted very deep, because you know very well
that sometimes one thing is true, sometimes another thing is true. We
know that it's relative, that it's not absolute. Making one thing
absolute always evokes the other side, which means conflict.
Therefore, a good teacher constantly contradicts himself. At least,
so it seems to you, when you think one side of the story is true. And
when you think like that, and you hear the opposite, you think: "So
that's not true" and you're in doubt again. And that can go on and on.
from the Dutch book: Het Onmiddelijke Zien (The Immediate Seeing)