CONVERSATIONS WITH ANNAMALAI SWAMI
Q: Is the relationship between the Guru and the disciple a real relationship or a maya relationship? If it is a maya relationship, how can it help us to transcend maya?
AS: Bhagavan used to give, as an example, the story of an elephant which dreamed that it was being attacked by a lion. The shock of seeing the lion in the dream was sufficient to wake the elephant up.
The Guru, according to Bhagavan, is the roaring lion who appears in our maya dream and shocks us so much that we wake up into jnana. While the dream is in progress the lion is very real for us, but when we wake up there is no lion and no dream.
In the state of jnana, we become aware that there was no Guru and no disciple; there is only the Self.
But we should not have that attitude prior to realization. While we are still trapped by maya we must accept the Guru-disciple relationship as being real because this relationship provides the only way of transcending all the wrong ideas we have about ourselves.
Even though we may know intellectually that all is one, we should revere the form of the Guru because it is only through his grace that our ignorance can be dissolved. We should respect the Guru and his teachings at all times. We cannot do this if we start treating him as an ordinary person who is no different from any other manifestation of the Self.
Respect for the Guru and faith in his teachings are essential for all those who want to make progress.
— Living by the Words of Bhagavan, p. 359