In Eastern traditions we always teach more by analogy than by analysis because when you are speaking of the Infinite, you are in analysis, you are trying to de-fine that which is in-finite. It can't be done.
In analogy you have a multi-level reality, and at whichever level of reality your consciousness is, you pick up the meaning at that level.
And as your consciousness expands, three years from now, you understand it differently. You look at the same analogy again, and you say, "Oh, no I didn't understand it the first time. This is what he's talking about."
You contemplate that and work with that, and two years, five years later your consciousness expands further, and you say, "No, no, no. The first two times was nothing. Now I've got it."
And so it goes on. And that is why also Christ spoke in parables, and all the great teachers, masters, always tell you stories.
There is the story of a great Sufi teacher, teacher of the Sufi tradition – Sufis are the Muslim mystics of the Middle East. And this Sufi teacher was traveling and found a companion. And he and the companion traveled together and stayed at the same wayside inns and chatted about all kinds of different things on the journey.
The last night of their travel together . . . . You see, the teachers often play crazy. Real great teachers – you can never figure them out. If you can figure him out, he's not a great teacher because they are marching to a whole different drum, and because it's not our drum, we don't understand. Very, very few people understand, say, my teacher, Swami Rama. Don't understand what he's saying, what he's doing, why he's doing it this way.
So this great Sufi teacher is on this journey with the companion. On the night of the journey they share the same room at the inn. And the great teacher, who was not known as a teacher or anything, just an ordinary companion to the traveler, sits down on his bed, worrying, pretending to worry about something.
"What's the matter, friend. What's wrong?"
"Oh, I just began to worry about something," he said.
"Well, we're going to sleep, and at night suppose someone else comes in and becomes me. How would I know tomorrow morning that I am me?"
The companion knew the man was a little off his rocker and thought of playing a trick of him, not knowing he was being tricked. "Well, I suppose you could do something about it." "I could? What could I do about it?"
The companion says, "I have a blue handkerchief. Let me tie it to your right ankle, and in the morning when you wake up, look at your ankle and see if the blue handkerchief is still there and you are you. It's as simple as that."
"Oh, yeah, why didn't I think of that?" So the companion ties a blue handkerchief on the teacher's right ankle. And the teacher says, "Oh, I'm so relieved. I can sleep." So he sleeps.
Now in the night the companion gets up, unties the blue kerchief from the great teacher's right ankle and ties it on his own left ankle. And the teacher wakes up in the morning and looks at his companion's ankle. "See? See what I was afraid of ! It's a good thing I thought about it last night. See, you became me!"
"Yeah, well, too bad, I became you now. Sorry about it."
So the great teacher said, "Well, I didn't really like the idea of exchanging "me's," but if you are me, now then, who am I?" And he said "Who am I?" in such a way, in such a manner – you see, sometimes, a teacher will reveal all his power, strength in one place, in one word, someplace, and that makes an impact on you and stays with you – the way he said "Who am I?" – the question was implanted in the mind of the companion. The teacher said, "Who am I?" and walked out of the inn and disappeared to carry on and find other companions whom he could teach. And this man, the man with the blue kerchief around his left ankle, from that moment on, became a mystic asking "Who am I?" The question was not the teacher's question. The question was something imparted into the companion's mind so that he would become a seeker.