Beware of those who claim to have The Answer. They probably don't understand the question.
The difference between a guru and a teacher is that gurus claim to have The Answer and they want you to accept it; teachers attempt to lead you to your own answers.
The world is full of gurus. We find them on television, on bookshelves, in religious establishments, and in the rooms of recovery programs. They all claim to have found a way to overcome (insert problem here) and that you’d do well to follow their direction or else. This flies in the face of common sense and usually appeals to people who are used to being led around and told what to do. Many folks, however, are likely to find this know-it-all attitude not only annoying but offensive. It only takes a bit of thought to conclude that people who spout dogma and the words of others most likely don’t have much to say on their own.
Hey, it takes all kinds of people to make a fellowship.
The old saying “You can’t step twice into the same river” is true. The riverbed is there, but the old river has moved on. Even the riverbed changes with the flow of the water. Our lives flow like the river, in their own riverbeds. No one but you can arrive at answers to the questions of your life. The most they can do is suggest paths based on their own experience. I can listen to what you tell me and suggest things that have worked for me, but I can’t possibly know what will work for you and what won’t. Even if I did, it might not work tomorrow or next week. Things change constantly.
That’s not to say that the program guidelines, my suggestions or those of someone else with some experience in recovery might not be good to try. A rough map is better than none when you don’t have one of your own. Since our lives are constantly in flux (especially in early recovery) we have to take the best information we can get and work with it, fitting it to our needs. Many of us have found that the map laid out by the 12-Steps works for us. Others may disagree and find alternative paths. That’s fine. The point is to get sober, not just abstinent, and to stay that way. There are many paths down to the river.
The Buddha said, “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” Those are the words of a teacher, not a guru. Remember that teachers and gurus and sponsors are men and women like you. They have no special line to the answers of the universe or the meaning of life.*
Nonetheless, when you find a teacher stop, listen…and think.
*It’s actually 41.9135 ;-)