Guru

One who has passed through the darkness, then returned so as to lead other across. Proper motivation for guru is that teaching reinforces what is already known, by forcing us to think through our ideas from various perspectives and express these ideas clearly. The more people the guru helps pass through the darkness, the less likely the guru will ever be ensnared again in darkness himself.

Ideally, guru is exactly one step ahead of chela in spiritual development, neither more nor less. A guru who is not more advanced than the chela can teach nothing the chela doesn't already know, while a guru who is too far advanced will have forgotten what it was like to be in the chela's shoes, and so will not be able to teach effectively.

The chela must lower his spiritual defense mechanisms in order to accept the guru's teaching, thus opening himself to programming that is not in his long-term interests. The chela must therefore be very careful of who he chooses as his guru. The most dangerous guru is one whose motivation is social status. Such a guru is a tool of society, and as such will not help the chela to discard excess social conditioning, which is what is typically required for enlightenment, but on the contrary will attempt to reinforce this conditioning. Serving the interests of society is how the guru obtains high social status, after all. Should the chela appeal to society for assistance in freeing himself from such a guru's clutches, society will reject this appeal and side with the guru. Society protects those who serve the interests of society. Whereas if the guru were simply unscrupulous, and had taken advantage of his position to milk the chela for money, or turn the chela into a spiritual slave, then society would probably side with the chela.

Guru is a Sanskrit term. Equivalent terms in modern English would be teacher, spiritual guide, advisor, counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, priest, pastor, rabbi. Similarly, chela translates to student, disciple, client, patient, etc. Guru does not have to be flesh-and-blood person with whom chela has an interactive relationship. Guru can also mean books, movies or songs which transmit a spiritual message.