The personal contact with a master does not necessarily require a face-to-face meeting. It can also be effected through a letter written by him--nay, to some degree, even through a book written by him. For his mind incarnates itself in these productions. Thus, those who are prevented by circumstances from meeting him physically, may meet him mentally and gain the same results.
One of the helps to kindle this spark into a flame is the reading of inspired literature, whether scripture or not--the mental association through books with men who have themselves been wholly possessed by this love.
If the strong yearning for truth be absent, a man may meet a thousand masters of the quest but he will neither recognize them for what they are nor experience any exaltation in their presence. This yearning must indeed be as strong as the hunger of a starving man or the desperation of a traveller lost in the desert.
It is usually quite impossible for the average aspirant to determine who is a fully qualified master. But it is sometimes quite possible to determine who is not a master. He may apply this negative test to the supposed master's personal conduct and public teaching.
The first service of the Master is to point out the way, both inwardly and outwardly, to the disciple. This shortens his journey by several lifetimes, which would otherwise have to be spent in wanderings, explorings, gropings, and searchings.
The title ”leader” implies its corollary ”follower.” But a spiritual leader of the kind here described does not want a mass of followers trailing behind him in a partisan spirit. It is enough for him to give others a few inspirations, ideas, insights, and yet leave them free to work on the material as they wish, unobligated to join any movement.
This eagerness to become a disciple and learn truth is the first necessary qualification. Without it nothing can be done; with it everything will come naturally in automatic response from the Overself.
Of all the many forms of work which a man can find to do, of all the several ways in which his active functions can express themselves, there is none higher than this, that he guide men out of illusion into reality. It is not wrong therefore to give his office great reverence and himself great devotion.
Despite the absence of a teacher, it is still possible to intensify his efforts. His surroundings offer part of the material for study; his personal history can be explored for a greater awareness of the meanings of his past and present experiences; and every situation offers an opportunity for a more objective observation of himself.
The teacher can only help one to help himself. Ultimately it will be by his own efforts alone that the student uncovers the wisdom and beauty he is seeking--and which are even now within him. Such efforts, in order to be successful, must be courageous and continuous: repeated failures should serve only to stimulate deeper determination.
... Whatever is called for to bring on enlightenment exists within himself already, but it is latent and undeveloped. By study, exercise, and practice the aspirant can be his own teacher. Sooner or later he will have to take this work into his own hands. The notion that someone else can or will do it all for him is delusory…
Yet the deeper we travel, the less need have we of thoughts and words, for all multiplicity collapses in this marvelous unity. We can neither think nor talk of this sublime state with any accuracy. Hence the only medium whereby we can properly represent it is--silence!
It will not be until a late stage that he will wake up to the realization that the real giver of Grace, the real helper along this path, the real master is not the incarnated master outside but the Overself inside his own heart. What the living master does for him is only to arouse his sleeping intuition and awaken his latent aspiration, to give him the initial impetus and starting guidance on the new quest, to point out the obstructions to advancement in his individual character and to help him deal with them.
Think more deeply than the conventional mass of guru-followers dare to do and you will come to perceive that in the end there is only one Teacher for each man, his own Overself…Why not go direct to the source?