The Importance of Following an Authentic Guru
How should we begin learning about Buddhism? Following a qualified spiritual teacher is the best option, while following a reliable Dharma book is second best. For example, if you want to learn to drive a car you need a driving instructor, similarly if you just depend on your own intelligence and don’t have the guidance of a qualified teacher, that will not lead to the essence of Dharma practice.
It’s best if you can follow a guru who has profound mastery of Buddhist philosophy. Go to him or her and listen to his or her teachings on at least a dozen Buddhist texts, because if you don’t take systematic steps in learning Buddhism then it’s hard to truly understand the Dharma teachings
If you don’t have the opportunity to follow a qualified teacher, it is very important to study some texts by yourself. For example, in Tibetan Buddhism you can study famous texts such as The Words of My Perfect Teacher. Study these texts again and again. In this way, you will dispel doubts like “Am I practicing in the right way?” or “How should I practice?”
Otherwise, merely depending on one’s own intelligence, even if your IQ is very high, will not allow you to understand the essence of practice. It’s just like learning to drive without a driving instructor. However clever you are, even if you try to hold the steering wheel, you might not drive smoothly on the road. So it’s best to rely on a guru. If that’s not possible, then the second best is to settle for reliable Dharma books. Then practice accordingly and repeatedly, as the instructions are very well explained in books of that kind.