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"The spiritual master will never say, 'I am God -- I can give you mercy.' No. That is not a spiritual master; that is a bogus pretender. The spiritual master will say, 'I am a servant of God; I have brought His mercy. Please take it and be satisfied.' This is the spiritual master's business. He is just like a mailman. When a mailman delivers you some large amount of money, it is not his own money. The money is sent by someone else, but he honestly delivers it -- 'Sir, here is your money. Take it.' So you become very much satisfied with him, although it is not his money that he is giving you. When you are in need and you get money from your father or someone else -- brought by the mailman -- you feel very much satisfaction.

"Similarly, we are all suffering in this blazing fire of material existence. But the spiritual master brings the message from the Supreme Lord and delivers it to you, and if you kindly accept it, then you'll be satisfied. This is the business of the spiritual master.

tranaya karunya-ghanaghanatwam
praptasya kalyana-gunarnavasya
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam

"Thus the spiritual master is offered obeisances: 'Sir, you have brought mercy from the Supreme Lord; therefore we are much obliged to you. You have come to deliver us, so we offer our respectful obeisances.' That is the meaning of this verse. The first qualification of the spiritual master, or guru, is that he brings you the message to stop the blazing fire in your heart. This is the test."

(The Journey of Self-Discovery, Chapter 4)
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