Sri Ramakrishna used to emphasise that it was extremely important to experience the spiritual truths before embarking on the mission of instructing others. He would say that the instruction of a man who has not had the vision of God does not produce any worthwhile effect on the hearers. His instructions are often a bundle of confused statements, a mixture of right and wrong.
In this connection he used to refer to a lecture delivered by a leader of one of the religious sects which had a decent number of followers at that time. It was a great occasion and a large number of devotees had gathered to listen to a spiritual discourse. Among the crowd were a number of serious spiritual aspirants keen to be instructed about the way to go forward in spiritual life.
Sri Ramakrishna said, “Samadhyayi (a religious instructor) delivered a lecture. He said: ‘God is beyond words and mind; He is dry. Worship Him through the bliss of your love and devotion’.” Sri Ramakrishna would exclaim, how one could describe God that way since the very nature of God was joy and bliss. He would wonder what such a lecture would accomplish. It was not capable of teaching people anything. He would add that such a lecture was like the lecture of a man who said, “My uncle’s cowshed is full of horses.” Horses in the cowshed! From that one could understand that there were neither horses nor cows.
Thus Sri Ramakrishna would say that people are often eager to become gurus or instructors. Without the strength of intense sadhana or striving they venture to guide others. Such efforts are like one blind man trying to lead another, resulting in both falling into a dark ditch as mentioned in the Katha Upanishad. Unless one is truly empowered by the strength of realisation, it is not possible to instruct others in spiritual matters.