What do you see in the future regarding the Guru/Disciple relationship? Do we need a Guru to attain a state of enlightenment ?
To me this is a very important question at the present time. I would like to emphasize the present time. It was in the mid 80's that the spiritual relationship of guru/disciple reached its highest popularity. Since then, there have been spiritual teachers with a more Western approach such as Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and Christiane Northrop, who have taken their educational credentials to approach the teacher/student relationship in a more down-to-earth environment. There are many more teachers without the educational credentials who are just as valuable but don't advertise the fact and will become popular in their own communities over the next few years.
We need to consider when the guru/disciple relationship started in order to see where it is presently and where it is going in the future. The best place to start is with the cycles of time called Yugas or Ages in the ancient Vedic texts. There are four ages or Yugas: Satya-yuga or the Golden Age, Treta-yuga, Dvapar-yuga and Kali-yuga. We are presently in Kali-yoga which is the dark age.
In Stephen Knapp's book "The Vedic Prophecies: A New Look Into The Future", he writes on page 21-The Padma Purana (7.26.15-17) elaborates that "in Kali-yuga, which is the abode of sins, everyone is involved in sinful activities. They censure the Vedas, or spiritual truths, and engage in gambling and stealing. Brahmanas will act fraudulently for a livelihood. Everyone will be addicted to women, sex, and intoxicating liquors. They will be stealing others' wealth. Heretics and atheists will become prominent. Men will possess little luster and will be wrathful, greedy, untruthful, and be filled with jealousy, pride, anger, deceit, and malice."
According to most historians Kali-yuga started after Krishna died some 5,000 years ago. This could be the reason why the relationship between Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita is the most read spiritual book in the East. It sets the tone for how the guru/disciple relationship works in the dark age such as Kali-yuga. In such a dark age it is no wonder that there is such a need to have a teacher of light (guru) to guide humanity. With so many mosquitoes available and very few light bulbs, the guru becomes the central energy source of pure white light that could elevate others to a higher state of awareness that is almost absent in humanity as a whole. The average age in Kali-yuga is 100 years if you're lucky. In Dvapara-yuga it is 1,000 years old. In Treta-yuga it is 10,000 years old. In Satya-yuga you could live to be 100,000 years old in perfect health.
To write about each yuga in detail would be lengthy. I recommend Stephen Knapp's book mentioned earlier for detailed information regarding the subject of yugas. It is obvious from my description of Kali-yuga that a teacher of enlightenment is needed and very rare in this dark age. However, I am always happy to mention the light at the end of the tunnel. According to most authors who are experts on the subject of yugas, we are entering a sub-period of Satya-yuga which will last 10,000 years. According to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who is the founder of the TM organization, we have entered this sub-period in July of 2005. Guru purnama is a yearly celebration of the guru every July on the full moon. The full moon in July of 2005 according to Maharishi is the start of the 10,000 year cycle of a sub-period of Satya-yuga in the Kali-yuga age we are presently in.
In the description of Satya-yuga on page 19 of Stephen Knapp's book it reads: In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (starting at 12.3.18) states "that in Satya-yuga there is virtue, wisdom, and religion, with no ignorance or vice. People are full of truthfulness, mercy, austerity, and charity. The people of Satya-yuga are also self-satisfied, friendly, peaceful, sober, and tolerant. Their pleasure is found within themselves, not through gratifying their senses in external activities. They know their spiritual identity and live in harmony with God, nature, and each other."
The guru/disciple relationship changes with each age. Since we have started the Satya-yuga sub-period in Kali-Yuga the relationship of teacher/student is changing. Now teachers are seeking to guide the student to glorify themselves rather than the guru. This is one of the reasons why the numbers of people attending secular traditions of Eastern philosophy are declining in numbers and the one's that are growing are only preparing others to find their own path of devotion in themselves. There will be less of a need to glorify the guru in the future and more of a need to collaborate with others in the group dynamic to achieve the goal of peace and tranquility in the family of humanity. It is not up to a few leaders, but up to humanity as a whole to establish themselves in a state of self-sufficiency or self-fulfillment.
In my visions of the future, I see a huge turning point starting by the end of this year 2006 and intensifying in the middle of 2007. I see a need to integrate the time and space knowledge of earth and the etheric or spiritual knowledge of a higher vibration which is not so dependent on time and space. Yugas are very dependent on the law of karma ruled by the planet Saturn. But are we moving into a time when the intelligence of the universe has other plans for planet earth than time and space? Are we moving into a time when knowledge from other intergalactic races will introduce a different point of view regarding our co-dependency on time and space? Is the guru/disciple relationship taking us away from our own responsibility to self in the present matrix of energy?
We will always need teachers, but I see the teaching relationship changing from dependency on the guru, which was needed in Kali-yuga, to a more sharing of knowledge to help us understand how we can work together rather than be separate in our own traditions of spirituality. Yes, the paths of devotion are coming to an end. The yugas will come to an end also as the lords of Karma are found to be unnecessary when men and women are attuned to a higher frequency of mind which vibrates differently than the small mind of time and space. We will still need teachers to guide and help humanity to the next level of development, but the emphasis is on guidance and growth for both teachers and students in a mutual admiration society where everyone is ultimately the guru, not just one person.