The Master or Guru of the Time
The Guru of the time is the Guru with whom the disciple has a living connection. Gurus of the past are no longer Gurus, because they are not living.
Both are necessary in their own spheres. By reading the history of the past Gurus and their beautiful hymns, we can realise the necessity of a living Guru and to some extent we understand his mission. The real benefit of spirituality, however, can only be had from the Guru of the time or the living Guru. The Guru who initiates a person is his present Guru or Guru of the time.
Even if there be more than one Guru at one and the same time, a disciple should have one Guru only, just as a woman should have one husband only.
Contemporaneous Gurus fill their respective disciples with their own higher consciousness. One cannot gain emancipation without this. Gurus stress the need for this again and again.
Maulana Rumi says, "Do not rely on your intellect or ability or cleverness. Do not break your relationship with the prophet of the time."
Do not turn away from the prophet of your own time; do not rely on your own self and your own efforts.
Every prophet of God emphasizes the necessity of seeking the Master of the time. He who has not, after due deliberation, searched for the Master of his time (in other words, has not received initiation from the Master of the time) who is the Regent and Viceroy of God and is a perfect Guru, will remain lacking in true spirituality. If we do not find the Living Master, we will remain deprived of true spirituality.
For this reason Maulana Rumi advises that one should follow Moses (the Living Master) and God, and should not let pride harm his soul.
Believe in the God of Moses and the Master: Let not your pride undermine your faith.
True devotion does not grow without a Master of the time. When we have not seen the Lord or enjoyed His company, how can we love Him? Without love and devotion we cannot reach the True Region.
Some persons think that the teaching in the Adi Granth about the necessity of a Living Master held good during the lifetime of the Sikh Gurus only. This matter deserves serious consideration. The advice of the Perfect Masters or Saints is for the entire world and for all times, and not for a specific period.
Great Saints speak the eternal Truth, for all the world, for all the ages.
Sorath Var M3, 647-1
The command of an emperor is as good as the emperor. This command stresses the need for a living Guru.
The Word is the Guru, and the Guru is the Word; the divine nectar is in the Word. Oh seekers, obey the words of the Gurus; the living Guru grants release.
Nat M4, 982-12
Bhai Gurdas Ji comments as follows:
The Vedas and other scriptures are the shop of the Master, which enable a man to cross the ocean of the world. The reality cannot be understood without a Master. The Lord incarnates as the master and makes us understand.
Var 1, Pauri 17
The inner secrets cannot be expressed in words, either spoken or written. They can be explained only by the Perfect Master of the time. He accompanies a disciple on his spiritual ascent and takes him across all the difficult stages of the journey.
The Master helps in overcoming all the difficulties.
Basant M5, 1185-15
This work cannot be done by a Guru who lived in past ages. The formless Shabd takes form. The Shabd must take form. Incarnations have form. Perfect Masters are incarnations of the Supreme Being, the Timeless One. They are called Guru avatars or Masters incarnate. Guru avatars are human in form.
Bhai Gurdas Ji says that without a Master incarnate no one can know the Lord.
Without the teachings and help of a living Guru, the inner secrets of the Path to the highest region cannot be known. Initiation is necessary to obtain knowledge of this Path. Reading the Vedas and Shastras is not sufficient.
From the history of the Sikhs, it appears that the Adi Granth, the holy book of the Sikhs, was compiled during the time of Guru Arjan. Side by side with the doctrine of the Word of the Guru, or the Word personified in the form of the Guru, there have been living Gurus in human form who have bestowed initiation.
Up to this very day the Khalsas or Pure Ones who have the inner Light, have this right to bestow initiation.
When full Light appears in the heart, the Khalsas (pure ones) then know the most Pure One.