Good question – Do I need a living Guru?
I have seen this question very often. Many people read the books of Raman Maharshi, Ramkrishna, Vivekananda, Vishnutirthji, Yogananda or Yukteshwar – and they feel connected to them and accept them as their Guru. Some people accept Krishna as their Guru. Others follow and say Jesus is my Savior and stop there
I have given the names of perfected individuals. However they no longer have a body and have taken Samadhi.
I can answer this question in 2 steps.
First of all, everything you read and learn is merely information. You read there is a subtle body. And you can imagine you have reached that level by merely reading and you are certain that you are very pure. However, this is illusionary since all you have is information and not experience. Yogananda once had a disciple / to be disciple who said, he has mastery over his subtle body. Yogananda was not impressed and said nothing. The person continued and finally Yogananda said, ok…lets verify it. And Yogananda asked him, tell me what is present in the house next to our house. He gave an imaginary answer that was not correct at all. Yogananda however, described it accurately.
So my question is, do you really know the steps that have to be done, to get mastery over the subtle body? Even if a book describes it, you wont be able to implement it. The necessary power to do it, has to come from a living Guru. A guru who now longer has a physical body cannot help.
There are many many levels of Shakti awakening that is needed. It is probably infinite. This has to come from a living Guru. There are realms that have nothing to do with this physical universe. These are subtle energy fields that have nothing to do with books or this physical world.
Secondly, if the Gurus from the past, who have taken Samadhi were able to help, why would people keep looking for a Guru? They cant help. (It is more complex than you understand). Why cant Lahiri Mahasay or Yukteshwar Maharaj just come over? Or why can Ashtavakra come and help? Why not accept him as a Guru? Subconsciously we know that they cant help and hence we dont even think of them as a Guru. How about Rumi? He was enlightened. They have great quotes and wisdom, yet we cant and wont even think of Rumi as our Guru. This subtle truth is already ingrained in our mind.
However, truth is, they are immortal
Complex isnt it
Short answer is Yes, you need a living Guru.