And those, says Kabir, who did not accept the help of the boat were able to cross the river. When those who climbed into the boat did so, their drowning had already begun. They climbed into the boat because they did not know how to swim. But the journey to God is a swimming. And it has to be undertaken on your own. Who can accompany you into your samadhi?
Once a Zen disciple was bidding farewell to his master. The night was dark and he was a little afraid; the road was deserted and he had to pass through a dense forest where there were many wild animals. He looked so nervous his master remarked, “You seem afraid.”
The disciple replied, “I am afraid. The night is dark, I am alone, and I have to pass through a thick forest full of wild animals.”
The master said, “Wait a moment. I will light a lamp for you.” He did so, and handed it to the disciple. As the disciple began to descend the staircase to set out on his way, the master suddenly blew out the lamp. Now the darkness seemed even darker than before.
The disciple had been given a little self-confidence and now it had been snatched away from him. He was startled. He asked, “What have you done? Why did you give me this lamp when all the time you intended to blow it out? What are you trying to tell me? Please explain all this to me.”
The master said, “This is the kind of journey where a lamp given to you by another cannot accompany you. It is a journey to be undertaken quite alone. No help is allowed; you must depend on yourself alone. If you are helpless, then remain helpless – but do not grab onto any false hope. Your mind will always persuade you to seek some support, to look for some help.”
People come to me and I tell them just to be quiet, just to remain quiet. And then they say, “Give us something to depend on. Shall we repeat a mantra? Can we practice a mantra?” They want a boat, a mantra-boat. They find it difficult just to sit quietly, doing nothing. They want to remain engaged, to keep busy doing something. They do not realize what it is to remain quiet without doing anything at all.
People are afraid to be without any help, to be helpless, so they try to catch hold of anything that is handy. Even a boat in the shape of a mantra will do. It is said that a drowning man clutches at a straw; he tries to make a straw into a log. All your boats are no better then straws. The straw may ease your mind for a while, but you will still be drowned in the middle of the river. How long can you deceive yourself?
The first thing to remember about this journey is that it is an inner journey; no type of support will be of any use whatsoever. Everything and everyone must remain outside; no friend or relative can be of any help. It is an inner journey and you will have to depend on yourself; you are the only boat.