A teacher is like a physician of the soul. Seekers need teachers because few have the knowledge of spiritual medicine they need to cure themselves and fewer still have the self-knowledge to diagnose themselves correctly. As one modern sheikh has put it, the transformation sought in Sufism requires the equivalent of a major operation. It might be possible to diagnose oneself and even treat simple problems, but one cannot operate on oneself. In another common metaphor, a teacher is a spiritual alchemist who can transform the dervish's soul into pure gold.

James Fadiman, Robert Frager, Essential Sufism by James Fadiman, editor, Robert Frager, editor