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Is it necessary to have a Guru?

MutleyMutley Somerset UK Explorer

Is it necessary to have a Guru (or meditation teacher)?
Or can you teach yourself from a book?


  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Hello @Mutley,

    Here is a moments worth of advice to get you started ...

  • howhow Veteran
    edited June 2016


    Teachers can be very helpful in having us address aspects of our own ignorance that we would probably otherwise resist facing..
    I also think that a successful meditation practice, is that practice which can allow all of existence to be your meditation teacher.

    We can only start where we presently are. If in this moment, a teacher is not present, then I'd recommend a study of the various forms of practice to see what makes sense as a place for you to start teaching yourself about meditation.

    When meditation teachers do start showing up, (and they always do) you'll already have some practicing experience under your belt to help you assess what they offer.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    5 years ago, I would have said "probably not". Right now, I'm pretty sure I could personally do with one, but I think to be honest, it's a question of finding one because you KNOW you need one, not finding one because it might be useful, or you THINK you should have one....

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    This is just my opinion based on my experiences, others will disagree based on their own experiences.
    I find having a teacher invaluable. I got started with books and videos and it did fine for me for a long time. However, it's very common to run into big questions, stalemates, bumps, storms and other obstacles along the way, and having a teacher to navigate those is quite helpful. Obstacles like that can cause people to shut down their practice because they don't know what to do or where to go next, so they just stop. But a teacher, especially one who has gotten to know you, will know what you are talking about and know how to help you through it. Chances are they've been through those obstacles. And when they know you? They know exactly what to say to you specifically to help you though. Often, they simply laugh and tell you not to take everyone so seriously, and often that is exactly what you need to hear, lol.

    All paths are our own alone. But sangha friends and teachers can help a whole lot. The path might be ours alone but it doesn't have to be solitary (and IMO it shouldn't be). They are not required, and for some people they are not necessary. For me, it is. My teacher is an invaluable support and friend and my practice wouldn't have continued if it weren't for him and our Sangha.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    @Mutley -- There is a need to have someone or something that keeps me honest -- a no-bullshit, cut-to-the-chase instructor of some sort. Who or what this might be depends on circumstances in the moment: Maybe it's a bit of belly-button lint; maybe it's a bald guy or gal who seems to have all the right moves, maybe it's a dog peeing on your foot, maybe it's an idle comment overheard in a crowded dining hall or maybe it's three small words on page 357.

    Read a little, visit a few centers, chat with friends and enemies ... see what evolves.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    As @federica mentions, requirements change.
    As @genkaku says, teachings and teachers abound BUT we have to start and continue.

    Here is one of my cyber gurus

  • MutleyMutley Somerset UK Explorer

    Thanks everyone for your very helpful replies

  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    Who was the Buddha's teacher?

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    I think he had many teachers. But that ultimately it was a bowl of rice and a kind hearted woman.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited June 2016

    @Mutley said: Is it necessary to have a Guru (or meditation teacher)?
    Or can you teach yourself from a book?

    You can take a DIY approach, but I would recommend trying out a local Buddhist group if you can.

    This site might be helpful. Most of the Somerset groups seem to be centred in Bath but there may well be local offshoots if you make some enquiries:

    And in Devon there is Gaia House: http://gaiahouse.co.uk/

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