"The thing about the guru in the West is that he represents an alien principle, namely, that you don’t follow your own path, you follow a given path. And that’s totally contrary to the Western spirit! Our spirituality is of the individual quest, individual realization--authenticity in your own life out of your own center. "
As someone who has chosen to have a "Guru" for almost 40 years of my life, this statement by Joseph Cambell, the great educator and author of The Power of Myth is very interesting to me. I suppose in some situations, the Guru, the teacher, master...whatever term we might use, can indeed generate and even encourage dependency on him or her. I've had endless discussions for years with those who believe I've given up my own path to "follow him" (in my case, Prem Rawat, also called Maharaji).
I do believe it's much harder in Western Culture to present the idea of a teacher in this way. In some cultures, India being one, children are raised to actually seek a guru in life. Here, especially in the US of A, we have that entrepreneurial attitude of the "self made man" (or woman) and any suggestion that we need help is considered almost insulting.
In the end, my own experience has been that not only has my teacher/guru/guide and friend not asked me or directed me to his own path or his own way of life, he's pounded into me for many years, almost begging me to understand that the the only real journey I can know in the deepest way is the one I take, alone, within myself.
He responded at one event, when once again asked about and criticized for people "following" him, "People don't follow me. I talk about the heart and that's what they follow..."
That, in the simplest way, is exactly what my relationship with him has been. Do I love him for what he showed me? Of course. Appreciate? Absolutely. But is my quest to be like him, to live like him, believe as he does? That never crosses my mind; completely not in the realm of my desire or need to do so.
My quest can only be my own. His help has been invaluable but the effort is all mine and what I discover cannot be shown or shared with anyone, not even him.