Many say the time of the guru is past. This is true, but it is not something to celebrate, because the guru function is necessary—it must be fulfilled for any society to be sustainable. Because the guru function can no longer be fulfilled in the society at large, the culture is falling into its final death throes. The loss of the guru function is part of the inevitable decline of values and power of the human spirit, a decline that has been prophesied by the same gurus who are now derided as being obstacles, rather than portals, to spiritual renewal.
The fall of the guru as a living presence in high culture is part of the general movement of consciousness into materialism and away from spirituality—indeed it is a part of the loss of high culture as a whole. Religious organizations and lineages have lost credibility not only because the culture has marginalized them, but more importantly because they have failed to live up to their own teachings. Corruption has destroyed the religions of the world.
Despite this, we need authentic gurus if we are to build a new culture, a new age, at a higher level of consciousness. Some people believe that higher consciousness will simply descend upon us all, magically, without our intensely working on ourselves. This is wishful thinking. Humans learn from others; that is the purpose of culture. The guru is the embodiment of the pinnacle of culture; culture in the sense of creative wholistic intelligence that functions in pure benevolence and joy; that empty place of consciousness that, though apparently still a human being, is free from the sense of ego; a consciousness that is filled with love, serenity, and timeless, all-inclusive presence.
The guru is not a person, but a function. Yet it is a function that must be learned, refined, purified, rendered impeccable. It is a sacrifice. We must offer schools in which this function can be mastered, and the sacrifice of ego be successfully achieved.
We all recognize that we need teachers of engineering, medicine, and computer programming. Why do we not assume that people will learn those things on their own? Why do we encourage people to get an education at a good school? We recognize