Many people have heard about the grace of the guru and many have experienced a guru's power, but few know the guru as supreme soul.
What are the guru's qualifications? Perhaps it would be easier to say what a guru is not. A guru is not just one who teaches yoga or tantra only; he is not one who has direct communion with spirits, who goes into trance or travels through space. He is not one who gives power, walks on fire or drinks acid. He is not one who is telepathic or has visions of past, future and far away things without any aids or apparatus, or who knows the Upanishads. But still he is capable of all these things.
The one who holds a guru's degree bears the key to the supersoul, not for himself alone, but for the next generation. He leads people to the highest plane of existence where there is universal harmony. Guru is bestower of peace, and this is humanity's greatest need.
According to the law of evolution a soul starts to evolve from the level of an insect. It finally becomes a man after assuming many different forms during countless lives. Sometimes a birth might last for only two or three minutes. Each birth is a little higher on the evolutionary scale. Eventually we come to our human life. In the human body we have five koshas (sheaths or bodies): annamaya, (physical), pranamaya (pranic), manomaya (psychic), vigyanamaya (astral) and anandamaya (supramental or spiritual). It is our misfortune that we are not able to utilize the five koshas which are within us. This is mainly due to our lack of awareness. It is also because we are unable to recognize the guru or guide who can awaken the koshas, and even after finding our guru, we are unable to follow his teachings.
If we wish to become aware of our higher koshas and enjoy the super-conscious experience of our inner soul, then we must first seek a guru. This must be our sole ambition. Once initiated by the guru, we must sacrifice all the ambitions and desires we had before initiation and live our whole life according to the dictates of the guru. We must obey the guru whether we consider his directions to be right or wrong.
After a disciple is initiated the guru gives him a lot of physical and mental work by which he exhausts his karma and samskaras. Sometimes a disciple reacts angrily thinking 'Why should I do this work? Why can't I work according to my own choice?' But we don't know by which work we will get rid of our samskaras. That only the guru knows. Our untrained, ignorant minds are restless and we often think many bad thoughts. When the mind is positive, everything is fine, but when the mind is negative, even the guru seems bad. This is the mischievous nature of the mind. It goes around and around in circles. Chasing sense objects, it grows more restless and plays tricks like a monkey. So the guru keeps giving his disciples more and more work, any kind of work, until their karmas and samskaras are completely exhausted. To divert and finally control the restless mind, the guru must prescribe many different things.
Physically, we and our guru are at the same place, but mentally we are not on the same plane at all. We are too far off to see him, to talk to him and walk with him on his plane. To experience the super-soul, we have to go with our guru. Only by going with him can this aspiration be fulfilled. A guru always wants to bring the disciple to his own plane of consciousness so that both can enjoy it, but to reach that transcendental state is not so easy. Thus guru and disciple both pray together. Actually the guru doesn't need any kind of formal prayer to God, but he does it for the sake of the disciple.