by Reb Meir at Project Emunah
Rebbe Nachman once commented that before an outstanding and true Tzaddik descends to this world it is possible to serve and come close to Hashem without the external help of the Tzaddik. However, once the Tzaddik does come into the world it is absolutely impossible to properly and truly serve Hashem without the help of this Tzaddik.
The reasoning behind this is that for every positive force in creation there is an equally opposite force of evil sent into the world. This is necessary in order to allow free will to continue existing. Thus along with this Tzaddik comes along a deeper and stronger force of evil to the world making it practically impossible to come close to the truth of one's purpose in life without the help of that Tzaddik who has enough strength and life force to combat this evil.
Rebbe Nachman once commented that we "now" have to give the yetzer hara a new name: IMAGINATION. It can be understood that "now" that Rebbe Nachman has come into the world and he maximized the use of positive imagination throughout his teachings and stories (as can be seen by anyone who has carefully and sincerely looked at his teachings how he takes a person away to "a totally different world" and "ballgame" in Judaism) – there is also an equal and opposing force of evil Imagination.
Look around today and see that literally everyone – religious or not – is suffering with phobias and sicknesses due to the imagination. The yetzer hara today has now reached the inner-conciousness and mentality of man. Forget about the physical pogroms and assaults on the Jewish nation – now we have a deeper and more personal problem – the Amalek within! A "regular" Jew today goes through in one day more mental suffering and anguish than the greatest tzaddikim in previous generations (Rebbe Nachman once said that a simple Jew today will be as unique as the Baal Shem Tov).
Today there is a lack of true simchah in life, simplicity, simple faith and fear of Hashem. Everything has become complicated in life. The Rebbe once commented that even a baby in a crib will already be filled with sophistry.
Therefore, due to the deep and mental sickness of this day and age we have no choice but to hold on and attach ourselves with unswerving determination to this Tzaddik who can combat this "Amalek" - these mental attacks on our imagination. This is why Rebbe Nachman stresses again and again attachment to the Tzaddik – for what other option does exist to remain a simple, sincere and devout Jew?
With attachment to the Tzaddik a person is "GUARANTEED" to make it in life – thus crossing the narrow bridge safely. This attachment affords a person the guarantee that the Tzaddik will never, ever, ever let go of this person until he is completely and fully rectified.