No matter how deeply you penetrate the inner reaches of another, you will never be able to touch his soul. Your journey will be just an orbiting on his outer boundary. So if you want to know the ocean through and through, then even diving into it is not enough. Then you have to become one with the ocean, just like a lump of rock salt that is thrown into the sea dissolves and becomes one with it. Then and only then will you know the infinite depths of the ocean.
The experience of knowledge can only be of one’s own self, and never of another’s. We always remain a tiny bit removed from each other. Even when we make love we are still unable to reach the other’s innermost depths – even then we remain on the circumference. And this is the problem for lovers. Lovers feel they come very close to each other, but their actual experience with each other reveals to them that they always remain far away. As they come nearer and nearer to each other they begin to realize it is impossible to be really close. A distance always remains between the two. That is why love for another is never satisfying.
Love will only be satisfying when it is established in God. God is you; He is not someone else. And there, with God, the distance disappears completely. Kabir calls such an experience knowledge. Such an experience can be only of the self. Self-knowledge is the only knowledge; the rest is all information. Knowledge is only that which a man has tested for himself; it cannot be achieved without experience.
There are many things in this world that can be known through others, many things that can be known with no personal experience. Whatever we know about this world, whatever information we have about it, for the most part is given to us by others. Scientists give us information about the various sciences; experts in geography tell us where the Himalayas are and where Tibet is, and this is how we gather information. This information received from others about the world can be accepted, but you cannot accept information from others about yourself.
Whatsoever another tells you about yourself will be untrue. No matter what you have learned about yourself from the Upanishads, from the Vedas, from the Koran, from the Bible, from the saints, from the scholars – give it no credence at all. After all, you are not a stranger to yourself! The idea that someone else can show you what you are is outrageous. What greater impotency can there be than your powerlessness even to know your self! What greater blindness can there be than your inability to know your self!
Are you so enveloped in darkness that you need someone else to show you the light, to show you who you are? If you need someone else, then it is quite clear you have no concept whatsoever of your being, of who you are. And how can another person give you that knowledge? There is no other way to achieve that experience than for yourself.
The master can indicate to you how to dive into yourself, but he cannot show you anything, he cannot tell you anything about your self. He can lead you to the bank of the river, but you will have to drink the water. And when you drink the water your thirst will be quenched. But that will be your own experience.