This is why it is so difficult to recognize a master.
You will be able to recognize those who are standing on the bank, but they are not able to save you. You will recognize that they are masters, but the distance between you and them will be so vast – how will you approach them? How will there be a contact, a bridge between you? They may be holy, they may be sitting on golden thrones, they may have breathed in the winds of heaven, they may be drunk with the fragrance of inexplicable flowers, but they are far away from you. At the most they have saved themselves.
But I say to you that if the one who has saved himself cannot save you, then it is doubtful that he has really saved himself. One doubts if someone who is afraid of leaving the shore is really on the shore. One who has reached the shore will not be afraid to leave it; he knows how to return. He is not afraid to lose what he has attained. A person is afraid of losing only what he does not really have, because if he loses it then he may not be able to get it back again. Only one who has really saved himself can risk losing it. But don’t think that just by taking the risk someone can save you – because even idiots take risks. Many times it happens….
Once it happened in front of me.
I was sitting on the bank of a river and a gentleman was sitting near me. I did not know him. Suddenly a man started drowning. I ran towards him, and the other man also ran and he jumped in before me. When I saw him jump in, I stopped. But then I saw that he himself had begun to drown. He had totally forgotten that he did not know how to swim!
When someone is drowning, the situation happens so suddenly and the desire to save him comes so strongly that perhaps you may forget that you don’t know how to swim.
They had doubled the difficulty for me: now I had to pull two drowning men out of the river. I said to him, “Sir, it would have been better if you had not jumped in!”
He said, “I totally forgot!” A noble man, kind-hearted, with a great desire to save people…but one cannot save just by having the desire to save – you also need to know the art of saving. The desire to save may possess you so strongly that you forget that you have never learned how to swim. Then instead of saving the person, you will be drowned – the person that you are trying to save will drown you.