Guru - an enlightened master
Indeed, the single most important factor necessary for the seeker to awaken from the slumber of delusion to their true nature of pure awareness beyond the limiting adjuncts of the body, mind and word is the enlightened spiritual master or Guru.
The syllable ‘Gu’ stands for darkness while the syllable ‘Ru’ stands for light – thus the Guru is the compassionate one who leads the seeker from the treacherous darkness of materialistic, mundane existence into the light of self knowledge.
Without a doubt, every religion, every sect, every scripture and every awakened soul are testament to this eternal truth. There can be no inner revolution without the association with the right teacher.
Only a lit flame can enlighten another, so also only a person who has awakened to their true nature and who has experienced the soul can guide the seeker to experience it himself.
What loving devotion towards the enlightened master can bring about, no amount of intellectual pondering or abnegating austerities can ever bring about. It is for this very reason that the scriptures lay utmost emphasis upon dedication and devotion towards the master.
This very truth has been masterfully intertwined in the most fundamental and timeless of Jain prayers – the Navkar Mantra. The reason the Arihants (omniscient preceptors) are bowed to before the Siddhas (or completely liberated souls) is to emphasise the importance of the living master.
The word of the enlightened master, emerging from the very depths of his soul, is like the powerful roar of a lion that can awaken the seeker from the dream of egoistic existence in an instant.