Here are interesting quotes relating to the Guru-Disciple relationship, from a Buddhist perspective:
"A good spiritual friend who will help us to stay on the path, with whom we can discuss our difficulties frankly, sure of a compassionate response, provides an important support system which is often lacking. Although people live and practice together, one-upmanship often comes between them. A really good friend is like a mountain guide. The spiritual path is like climbing a mountain: we don’t really know what we will find at the summit. We have only heard that it is beautiful, everybody is happy there, the view is magnificent and the air unpolluted. If we have a guide who has already climbed the mountain, he can help us avoid falling into a crevasse, or slipping on loose stones, or getting off the path. The one common antidote for all our hindrances is noble friends and noble conversations, which arehealth food for the mind."
"To find a Buddha, all you have to do is see your nature. Your nature is the Buddha. And the Buddha is the person who’s free: free of plans, free of cares. If you don’t see your nature and run around all day looking somewhere else, you’ll never find a Buddha. The truth is, there’s nothing to find. But to reach such an understanding you need a teacher and you need to struggle to make yourself understand…"
"If you are only studying Dharma for the sake of study, sake of development of your understanding of Dharma, if you are only studying Dharma intellectually, just intellectually on intellectual level, then I don’t think you need a guru-disciple relationship. And also you can study with all kinds of teachers. It’s like going to university. You study with different teachers or professors, and you go on, you move on. But if you wish to commit yourself to the path, then it is necessary, because one needs to know how to accomplish the realization, how to practice the Dharma."
Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
‘We need help on the spiritual path to guide us finding the right way. Obviously the best person to accompany us as a tour-guide is someone who has already successfully travelled the path. This person can help to quicken our progress and avoid obstacles. ‘
A proper disciple should avoid the so-called 3 faulty attitudes:
– being like an upside down vessel: refusing to learn and scepticism
– being like a leaking vessel: forgetting everything and showing no interest
– being like a polluted vessel: being very prejudiced and believing to know everything better than the teacher
As Lama Govinda writes in ‘A Living Buddhism for the West’:
"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."
But, as Lowenthal and Short comment in ‘Opening the Heart of Compassion’:
"While respect for and openness to the teacher are important for our growth and freedom, blind devotion fixates us on the person of the teacher. We then become confined by the limitation of the teacher’s personality rather than liberated by the teachings."
WHERE AND WHEN TO FIND A GURU?
"When we have prayed and aspired and hungered for the truth for a long time, for many, many lives, and when our karma has become sufficiently purified, a kind of miracle takes place. And this miracle, if we can understand and use it, can lead to the end of ignorance forever: The inner teacher, who has been with us always, manifests in the form of the "outer teacher," whom, almost as if by magic, we actually encounter…"