The First Lamp
When I say “I,” I mean this spirit. Close your eyes and see what picture appears when you think of your “I.” Is it the picture of your body that comes, or of your mental nature? If so, you have not realized your true “I” yet. The time will come, however, when as soon as you say “I” you will see the universe, the infinite being. Then you will have realized your true self and found that you are infinite. That is the truth: you are spirit, you are not matter. There is such a thing as illusion—in it one thing is taken for another; matter is taken for spirit, this body for the soul. That is the tremendous illusion. It has to go. . . .
The disciple must have faith in the guru (teacher). In the West the teacher simply gives intellectual knowledge; that is all. The relationship with the teacher is the greatest in life. My dearest and nearest relative in my life is my guru, next, my mother, then my father. My first reverence is to the guru. If my father says, ‘Do this,’ and my guru says, “Do not do this,” I do not do it. The guru frees my soul. That father and mother give me this body, but the guru gives me rebirth in the soul.
We have certain peculiar beliefs. One of these is that there are some souls, a few exceptional ones, who are already free and who will be born here for the good of the world, to help the world. They are free already; they do not care for their own salvation—they want to help others. They do not require to be taught anything. From their childhood they know everything. . . .
Upon these free souls depends the spiritual growth of mankind. They are like the first lamps from which other lamps are lighted. True, the light is in everyone, but in most men it is hidden. The great souls are shining lights from the beginning. Those who come in contact with them have, as it were, their own lamps lighted. By this the first lamp does not lose anything, yet it communicates its light to other lamps. A million lamps are lighted, but the first lamp goes on shining with undiminished light. The first lamp is the guru and the lamp that is lighted is the disciple.
‒ Swami Vivekananda, “Discipleship,” Complete Works, Vol. VIII