Inspirational Quotes on the Guru-Disciple Relationship

Dedicated to the Mahadeva.

The Guru is the bright mask which God wears in order to come to us. – Swami Vivekananda

One thing: you have to walk, and create the way by your walking; you will not find a ready-made path. It is not so cheap, to reach to the ultimate realization of truth. You will have to create the path by walking yourself; the path is not ready-made, lying there and waiting for you. It is just like the sky: the birds fly, but they don’t leave any footprints. You cannot follow them; there are no footprints left behind. – Osho

You will find that no one of the great teachers of the world went into these various explanations of texts; on their part there is no attempt at “text-torturing”, no saying, “This word means this, and this is the philological connection between this and that word.” You study all the great teachers the world has produced, and you will see that no one of them goes that way. Yet they taught, while others, who have nothing to teach, will take up a word and write a three-volume book on its origin and use. – Swami Vivekananda

If spirituality means seeking [‘Self’-Realization], why do I need a Guru?’ Let’s say, all that you’re seeking is to go to Kedarnath right now. Somebody is driving; the roads are laid out. If you came alone and there were no proper directions, definitely you would have wished, “I wish there was a map to tell me how to get there.” On one level, a Guru is just a map. He’s a live map. If you can read the map, you know the way, you can go. A Guru can also be your bus driver. You sit here and doze and he will take you to Kedarnath; but to sit in this bus and doze off, or to sit in this bus joyfully, you need to trust the bus driver. If every moment, with every curve in this road, you go on thinking, “Will this man kill me? Will this man go off the road? What intention does he have for my life?” then you will only go mad sitting here. We’re talking about trust, not because a Guru needs your trust, it’s just that if there’s no trust you will drive yourself mad.

This is not just for sitting on a bus or going on a spiritual journey. To live on this planet, you need trust. Right now, you trust unconsciously. You’re sitting on this bus, which is just a bundle of nuts and bolts and pieces of metal. Look at the way you’re going through the mountains. Unknowingly, you trust this vehicle so much. Isn’t it so? You have placed your life in the hands of this mechanical mess, which is just nuts and bolts, rubbers and wires, this and that. You have placed your life in it, but you trust the bus consciously. The same trust, if it arises consciously, would do miracles to you. When we say trust, we’re not talking about anything new to life. To be here, to take every breath in and out, you need trust, isn’t it? Your trust is unconscious. I am only asking you to bring a little consciousness to your trust. It’s not something new. Life is trust, otherwise nobody can exist here. – Sadhguru, Mystic’s Musings

Mephistopheles’ contentious, often ambiguous relationship to Faustus is a reference to tantra just as it is to alchemy. It resembles the shifting tactics of a guru who varies his approach to his pupil in order to dissolve his resistances and prepare him for wider states of consciousness. Both Faustus and the tantric aspirant stimulate and indulge their senses under the guidance of their teachers who encourage them to have sexual encounters with women in their dreams. Both work with magical diagrams or yantras, exhibit extraordinary will, “fly” on visionary journeys, acquire powers of teleportation, invisibility, prophecy, and healing, and have ritual intercourse with women whom they visualize as goddesses. The tantrist [sic] is said to become omniscient as a result of his sacred “marriage,” and Faustus produces an omniscient child in his union with the visualized Helen, or Sophia. – Ramona Fradon, the Gnostic Faustus

The Tantric guru does not have to be perfect, nor never struggle. To watch the guru struggle with hardship is a privilege, whether it be leading his people to freedom over a mountain, or fighting a disease in his own body. More than that, sometimes a link of spirit can form between the guru and his most beloved and devoted disciples, and the struggle passes through that link to their own lives. Though they may suffer from it, this is still a privilege, because they will share not only his suffering but the purification that comes from the guru defeating his enemy within, and this pushes them all the sooner toward moksha, and thus is a great gift, one of the greatest upadesa. The guru struggles not just for himself but for his disciples as well, and they aid him and give him sadhuseva by holding to their own sadhana, and sending up prayers for his elevation, which will mean their own as well. This is the guru kripa of Tantra.    – Sivoham Sarvesvara

This is the test of the chela: to see whether he is ready to follow his guru all the way through the testings of the guru’s ascension … In the hour of the ascension of the guru occurs the transfiguration of the chela. You remember the transfiguration of Jesus, a very important moment of his being, being filled with the fullness of that incarnation of the Word … Because the guru ascends, he becomes one in the Christ Presence of the chela. The chela, then, has the entire momentum of his guru, plus his own momentum. – Elizabeth Clare Prophet

Gurus don’t teach. They transform. The words, and even the concepts, are only an excuse to get you to be near them, to fall into step with their vibe, which will transform you. You said, “Also, why stick to just one guru?” Well, okay…but how many gurus are you going to molecularly chime with? How many are you going to ask the universe to provide? Where is your gratitude and surrender? Where is your love? When do you switch, and why? How do you know that the ego is not running?

My guru does not condescend…instead he challenges me constantly. Hard. And I get clearer as a result. … If I have a problem with greed, my guru will demand money. If I have a problem with standing up for myself, he will try to demean me. If I have a problem with anger, he will try to provoke me. Whatever the problem, he will apply the antidote until I choose to change. Then, naturally, the method will no longer “get to” me. And I am free of it forever. -Gilana

You, as the person, imagine that the Guru is interested in you as a person. Not at all. To him you are a nuisance and a hindrance to be done away with. He actually aims at your elimination as a factor in consciousness. – Nisargadatta

When the sun of fierce devotion shines on the snow mountain of the master, the stream of his blessing will pour down. – Drikung Kyobpa

The relationship with a guru is in many ways like a romantic relationship. I know that may be hard to digest, because we have so many connotations about romantic relationship (mainly sexual), but they both have the same traits, including the selection of the partner – the lover in one case and the guru in the other. How do you select your lover? Are you doing pro/con lists? Probably not; or, more precisely, you’d better not. You have this uncontrollable instinct, this enormous excitement, this attraction, these pulses of the heart. The same is in the case of selecting a guru. – Jibanda

(c) Isha Foundation

Rebuilding relationship requires a lifelong discipline and commitment. – Sri Amma Bhagwan

The Guru has to bear the disciple’s burden of sin. – Swami Vivekananda

With me, illusions are bound to be shattered. I am here to shatter all illusions. Yes, it will irritate you, it will annoy you – that’s my way of functioning and working. I will sabotage you from your very roots! Unless you are totally destroyed as a mind, there is no hope for you. – Osho

If you want to know about your Guru, see what his toilet is like. – Sri Ramakrishna

It is easier to become a Jivanmukta (free in this very life) than to be an Acharya (teacher of mankind). For the former knows the world as a dream and has no concern with it; but an Acharya knows it as a dream and yet has to remain in it and work. – Swami Vivekananda

Any time that you take a teaching with the recognition that you are the disciple and the teacher is the guru, then even if the teacher only says a few words, a verse of teachings, or one mantra recitation, that person is your guru from then on and there is no change. After one makes that Dharma connection of guru and disciple, then if you give up it is the heaviest negative karma, the greatest obstacle to your spiritual growth. It brings heavy obstacles and one has to experience, especially at the time of death, eons of suffering in the lower realms and hell realms. – Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Whenever you employ your ego to identify yourself as the doer of an action, that action becomes a karma for you. – Robert E. Svoboda, Analyzing Karma

A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others. – Anonymous

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. – Henry Adams

Judgement is the forbidden objectivization of the other person which destroys single-minded love. I am not forbidden to have my own thoughts about the other person, to realize his shortcomings, but only to the extent that it offers to me an occasion for forgiveness and unconditional love. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The best measure of a spiritual life is not its ecstasies but its obedience. – Oswald Chambers

…The call that resonates most closely in the heart of a disciple is “follow me.” The command to follow requires that we take a daily journey in the company of other students. It demands that we be lifelong learners and that we commit to constant growth in spiritual maturity. Discipleship is a call to me, but it is a journey of “we”. – Michael Spencer

When you are truly awakened, you have completely stopped trying to become awakened. You simply are. You know that you did not locate awakening; awakening located you. -Enza Vita

It is one of the gifts of great spiritual teachers to make things simple. It is one of the gifts of their followers to complicate them again. Often we need to scrape away the accumulated complications of a master’s message in order to hear the kernel of what they said. – Julia Cameron

(c) Isha Foundation

Jesus was also well aware of the guru/chela relationship. The twelve disciples, Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, Martha, Lazarus and others were his chelas. The guru always transmits the inner mysteries to his chelas. Not everything we need to know is in the Bible. – William House

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you. – The Gnostic Gospels

Rely on the teachings to evaluate a guru: Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism. -The Dalai Lama

Tapobana the Master had a disciple who served him with diligence. The master kept him solely because of this diligence and the services he rendered, for he found the disciple rather stupid. One day, the rumour spread throughout the whole region that Tapobana’s disciple had walked on water. He had crossed the river as if he crossed a street. Tapobana called his disciple and questioned him. “Is it true what people say? Did you actually walk over the water?”

“What could be more natural?” answered the disciple. “It is thanks to you, blessed one, that I walked over the water. At every step I repeated Your Holy Name, and that is what upheld me.”

Tapobana then thought to himself: “If my disciple can walk over water using my name, what would be impossible for me, his master? If in my name miracles take place, I must possess powers I did not suspect, and I must be more holy than I was aware of. After all, I never tried to walk on water.” Without delay he ran to the river bank. With unshakeable faith in himself, Tapobana repeated: “I, I, I …..” And sank. – Sri Ramakrishna

If a chela (disciple) is accepted by a Guru, he has to approach the teacher with trustful openness and devotion; these are the two basic conditions without which spiritual guidance is impossible. It is just here that many Western chelas make it hard for themselves, because they cannot bring themselves to bow to their teacher, and become upset when their prejudices and opinions are criticised. Even when they profess to love the teacher, they defend their position and defend their standpoint. … A true guru is not concerned with imposing conformity of thoughts and feelings. He wants to arouse personal recognition and experience in the chela – not to teach him, but inspire him. But he also wants to liberate his chela from the attachments to opinions, prejudices, and dogmas – and this is often a painful process.– Lama Govinda

The Sanskrit word chela is used because it has a more specific significance than the words “pupil” or “disciple” as understood today. To be a chela implies a peculiar degree of loyalty to one’s chosen teacher and to the principles underlying his teachings. It also, and more particularly, implies a realization of the sacredness of the bond between the chela and his spiritual teacher, or to use again the Eastern word, his guru … Yet such a spiritual relationship goes deeper even than this, since an occult teacher is one who can open for us the inner realms of being. It is not so-called religious instruction that he gives, though ethics and morals are the foundation of all genuine spiritual teaching. He does what religion as we moderns know it can never do. He not only gives knowledge but actually quickens the human soul, much as the flame of mind was quickened in the early races of mankind by the manasaputras or Promethean light-bringers. In a sense, a real spiritual teacher literally raises his chela from the dead, for unless we are born again we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. And as Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven is within us. – Leoline L. Wright

A shishya is a reflection of the Guru. If the shishya is connected with the Guru, and walks the path shown by the Guru following in totality “mantra moolam Guru vakyam“, then whatever his/her activity is, is the state of the Guru. Whatever is the frequency of the Guru figure, people who have a vritti that falls in that spectrum, only they will be attracted to his energy and be able to come close to it and become a shishya. Others will only come to get their problems solved and as soon as they get what they want, they leave. They can never become shishya. – Yogi Ashwini

If the guru makes a mistake due to a fault of his prakruti, people will criticize him. Once you have made someone your guru, if you are going to criticize him and this weakness is going to get in the way, then it is better that you do not make him your guru. Otherwise, there is a terrible liability in doing so. After making someone your guru, do not criticize him. No matter what the guru is like, revere him until the end. If you cannot revere him, then never criticize him because to look at the fault of the guru is the fifth ghaai karma (one of five grave demerit karma).That is why they teach, “Be careful – the guru is the fifth ghaati, so if you look at the guru’s fault, know that you will fail. Do not fall into gossip about the guru you have chosen because everything is according to unfolding karma (udayakarma). Now, to not raise objections is also wrong, but you must raise them with vitaragata (detachment), not by throwing dirt. You can comment, “It should not be this way,” but do it with detachment, because the guru’s karma is unfolding. Besides, what are you going to do by finding faults in him? What do you think?  – Dada Bhagwan

Who is worthy of being called a disciple? He would be someone whose faith in the guru would remain unshaken even if the guru acts crazy. When the guru acts crazy, even then the disciple does not lose faith in him. That is the quality of a disciple. – Dada Bhagwan

When I went to Girija Devi I was the only child of my parents, and in my family there was no tradition of touching the elders’ feet, as is the old custom in India. So it was not that I was very proud or I didn’t want to do it. I simply didn’t have the custom. So at fifteen I used to just do namaskar to Girija Devi and then, after some time, she told me, “Look, it’s good to touch your guru’s feet, it makes you aware that you are in the stage of learning, and when you’re learning you have to bend.” … You cannot climb when you are straight, you see. You can climb a steep hill only when you bend a little. So it doesn’t boost the ego of the guru, but it keeps the disciple aware that they are learning. So this was imparted to me and I saw the beauty of it. By stooping down, you see so many things you can’t see from a distance. This is learning the truth of life, not just music. There are so many stages in life where you learn by bending a little. She was teaching me not to resist.”  -Manju Sunduram, from Piers Moore Ede’s Kaleidoscope City.


Have you ever heard of the Sadguru, Karnaguru, and Upaguru? The Sadguru kills the aspirant – separating him from his mundane existence. The Karnaguru flays the carcass, the ego. All the accretions of the false personality is chopped into tiny pieces … The Upaguru cooks the ego in the fire of Shakti, and the result is a tasty dish, an enlightened being. The best guru, of course, combines the Sadguru, the Karnaguru, and the Upaguru into one … No matter how your guru works, if he is a real guru he will push you to the limits of your endurance and then further. He will test you until you think you can no longer bear it, but it will be worth it because once he is finished with you, you will be ready for real sadhanas.  – Vimalananda