The entire Spiritual Way is a process based on the understanding of attention, or the understanding of the inevitable and specific results of attachment to, or reaction to, or identification with every kind of conditional object, other, or state. This Spiritual understanding is expressed in a simple traditional formula: You become whatever you meditate on. Since the most ancient days, this understanding has informed and inspired the practice of real practitioners of the Spiritual Way. Likewise, and on the basis of this very understanding, Spiritual practitioners have affirmed that the Great Principle of Spiritual practice is Satsang, or the practice of life as self-surrender to the bodily Person, the Transmitted Spiritual Presence, and the Realized State of a Spiritually Realized Adept of whatever degree or stage.
The traditional term “Guru” means “One Who Reveals the Light and thereby Liberates beings from Darkness”. This term is also commonly interpreted in a general sense to mean “teacher”. Thus, Adepts have certainly been valued simply as “gurus”. However, the function of instruction can be performed by anyone who is properly informed, and, indeed, even the specific function of Spiritual Instruction is secondary to the Great Function of the Adept.
Adepts inevitably Instruct others, but the function of Instruction is then passed on through good books, and through informed others, and so forth. The Great Function of the Adept Guru is, however, specific only to Adepts themselves, and this is the Guru-Function supremely valued by Spiritual practitioners since the most ancient days.
The specific Guru-Function is associated with the Great Principle of Satsang. Therefore, since the most ancient days, all truly established Spiritual practitioners have understood that Satsang Itself is the Great Means for Realizing Real God, or Truth, or Reality. That is to say, THE Great Means of Realization in the Spiritual Way is to live in, or to spend significant time in, or otherwise to give attention to the Company, Form, Presence, and State of an Adept who is Realized in one or another of either the advanced or the ultimate stages of life.
Based on the understanding of attention, the Spiritual Motive is essentially the Motive to transcend the limiting capability of attention. Therefore, the traditional Spiritual process is an effort to set attention Free by progressively relinquishing attachment and reaction to conditional objects, others, and states.
This conventional effort is profound and difficult, and it tends to progress slowly. Therefore, some few adopt the path of extraordinary self-effort, which is asceticism. However; the Adepts themselves have, since the most ancient days, offered an alternative to mere self-effort. Indeed, the Adept-Gurus offer a Unique Principle of practice. That Unique Principle is the Principle of Supreme Attraction.
Truly, the bondage of attention to conditional objects, others, and states must be really transcended in the Spiritual Way, but mere self-effort is a principle that the separate self. Therefore, the process of the real transcending of bondage to conditions is made direct if the principle of independent self-effort is at least progressively replaced by the responsive Principle of Supreme Attraction.
On the basis of the simple understanding of attention expressed in the formula: You become What you meditate on the ancient Essence of the Spiritual Way is to meditate on the Adept-Guru, and to be Attracted beyond the self-contraction. Through sympathetic Spiritual Identification with the Samadhi State of a Realizer, the devotee is Spiritually Infused and even Perfectly Awakened by the Inherently Attractive Power of Samadhi Itself. And, by the Great Spiritual Means that Is true Satsang, the fully prepared devotee of a true Realizer may Freely relinquish the limits of attention in each of the progressive stages of life that, in due course, follow upon that devotion.
Particularly in more modern days, since Spirituality has become a subject of mass communication and popularization, the Spiritual Way Itself has become increasingly subject to conventional interpretation and popular controversy. In the broad social context of the first three stages of life, self-fulfillment is the common ideal. Therefore, the common mood is one of adolescent anti authority and anti-hierarchy, and the common search is for a kind of ever-youthful ego-omnipotence and ego-omniscience.
The popular egalitarian “culture” of the first three stages of life is characterized by the politics of adolescent rebellion against “authority”. Indeed, a society of mere individuals does not need, and cannot even tolerate, a true culture because a true culture must, necessarily, be characterized by mutual tolerance, cooperation, peace, and profundity. Therefore, societies based on competitive individualism, and egoic self-fulfillment, and mere gross-mindedness actually destroy culture. And true cultures are produced only when individuals rightly and truly participate in a collective, and, thus and thereby, live in accordance with the life-principle of ego-transcendence and the Great Principle of Oneness.
In the common world of mankind, it is yet true that most individuals tend to be confined to the general point of view associated, developmentally, with the unfinished “business” of the first three stages of life. Thus, in the common world of mankind, even religion is reduced to what is intended to serve the “creaturely”, and rather aggressively exoteric, point of view and purposes of egoity in the context of the first three stages of life. And even if an interest in the esoteric possibilities develops in the case of any such yet rather “worldly” character, that interest tends to be pursued in a manner that dramatizes and reinforces the point of view characteristic of the first three stages of life.
Until there is the development of significantly effective self-understanding relative to the developmental problems associated with the first three stages of life, any one who aspires to develop a truly esoteric religious practice will, characteristically, tend to relate to such possible esoteric practice in either a childish or an adolescent manner. Thus, any one whose developmental disposition is yet relatively childish will tend to relate to esoteric possibilities via emotionalistic attachments, while otherwise tending to be weak in both the responsible exercise of discriminating intelligence and the likewise responsible exercise of functional, practical, relational, and cultural self discipline. And any one whose developmental disposition is yet relatively adolescent will tend to relate to esoteric possibilities via generally “heady” efforts, accompanied either by a general lack of self-discipline or by an exaggerated attachment to self-discipline.
Because of their developmental tendencies toward either childish or adolescent ego-dramatizations, those who are yet bound to the point of view of the first three stages of life are, developmentally, also not yet truly ready to enter into the esoteric process. And, for the same developmental reasons, the principal and most characteristic impediments toward true participation in the esoteric religious process are “cultism”, “intellectualism”, and “anti Guruism”.
Of course, individuals in the earlier stages of life who are not yet actively oriented those not yet actively oriented, or rightly adapted, to truly ego-surrendering and really ego-transcending practice are generally Served only through the written Teachings of an Adept, and through the public institutional work of the practicing devotees of an Adept.
The Realized Adept is, primarily, an esoteric Figure, whose unique Function Serves within the context of the advanced and the ultimate stages of life. The advanced and the ultimate stages of life are themselves open only to those who are ready, willing, and able to make the truly developmental sacrifice of separate and separative self that is necessary in the context of the advanced and the ultimate stages of life. Therefore, the necessity of a Realized Adept is obvious only to those who are ready, willing, and able to embrace the Ordeal of the advanced and the ultimate stages of life.
Except for the possible moments in which the Divine Person may Serve in a nonphysical Revelation-Form, the Realized Adept is an absolute necessity for any and every human being who would practice within the esoteric stages of life. Therefore, the necessity of a Realized Adept is inherently obvious to any one and every one who is truly ready, willing, and able to embrace the esoteric Ordeal of Real-God-Realization.
Any one and every one who doubts and quibbles about the necessity is, simply, not yet ready, willing, and able to enter the esoteric Ordeal of advanced and the ultimate stages of life. And no mere verbal argument is sufficient to convince such doubters of the necessity of a true Adept-Guru, just as no mere verbal argument is sufficient to make them ready, willing, and able to truly embrace the ego-surrendering esoteric Ordeal of advanced and the ultimate stages of life.
Those who doubt the Guru-Principle, and the unique value and ultimate necessity of the Adept-Guru, are those for whom the Great and Spiritual Way Itself is yet in doubt. Therefore, such matters remain “controversial” until the truly developmental and Spiritual Motive Awakens the heart’s Great Impulse to Grow Beyond.