In the nondual literature are many statements noting the requirement of a guru for one who wishes enlightenment. What is the primary factor behind such statements? Is it just tradition? Is it elitist on the part of gurus and followers?
A primary fact that supports the tradition is that so few ever attain enlightenment. It is a rare event. Being rare, a serious student may easily justify the need to have a personal guru.
For Westerners this is not as tolerable as it may be for those having grown up in the Eastern cultures. Surrender is not a highly regarded trait in the West. Having a guru is one thing, complete surrender to the guru is another.
I believe the critical factor in the tradition of needing a personal guru, is the need for conviction. What the student needs, what he requires, is conviction. As with many endeavors, conviction is a fundamental quickening agent. What the guru can provide is that conviction.
Being in the presence of a guru and seeing the sureness with which questions are answered, supports conviction. Seeing the attitude, the approach, the authority and humility of the guru, also supports conviction.
Seeing that a guru lives what he speaks, and is what he speaks of, supports conviction. Hearing words and concepts spoken with sureness and understanding, promotes conviction. What is behind the gurus words, and the space from which they come, is also felt.
Conviction on the part of the guru easily lends itself to conviction on the part of the student. The leavening effect of conviction leads to the letting go of erroneous opinions, leading to faster results.
Another factor the presence of a guru provides is "silent transmission." This has been documented and described over the years. Among the faithful this is a given. What is this silent transmission?
Hawkins notes that the aura of the guru is at a different wavelength. Being a wavelength not encountered among the general population, it can have an incredible impact without a word spoken.
Those lucky enough to have been in the presence of a truly enlightened guru are already at an advantage. For the aura does carry the vibration to the student.
The fact that you have been in the presence of an enlightened person may already indicate that you are on the path, knowingly or unknowingly. Otherwise you wouldn't have had the opportunity.
In my case, I have met with and been in the presence of several gurus. I have spoken with others. I did not experience what some call "wu wu." That does not mean that I did not pick up the vibration. At the time, I may not have been ready.
Hawkins says that the vibration of the aura of a guru remains with the seeker forever, even multiple lifetimes. When that person is ready, it will have effect.
As for me, my most revealing and awakening moments have been when alone. Usually while reading the words of a master. Letting the words and the space between the words speak to me, has brought tremendous revelation. It has brought inspiration, ecstasy, and more.
I have always maintained, "Put no head above your own." Trust yourself, whether in what you read, or what guru you follow. This demands that you know what resonates with you. If it resonates, feel free to follow, to allow.
Having a strong intellect and being attached to words and concepts, I have always pursued enlightenment via the mind. Commonly called Jnana yoga. Most say this is the hardest way. I have a hard head.
For me, reading Krishnamurti, Krishna Menon, Franklin Merrell-Wolf, Nisargadatta and others, allowed me to reach depths previously unknown. These experiences brought conviction. Speaking with enlightened souls has also helped.
In any event, it is conviction that makes the way easier -- the grease that makes the impossible, possible. Conviction is light that helps penetrate the darkness.
Lack of conviction is a stumbling block. Conviction is an aid. I am not condoning stupid fanatical belief. But I am in support of the experience of conviction, which allows one to suspend stumbling blocks of the mind, even for a moment. If a guru helps allay one's skepticism, by all means, seek one out.