A teacher is one who teaches, who helps people to know about things, without himself realizing them. Sometimes teachers can attract thousands of people. The only thing needed is they should be good teachers.
They may not have known themselves, but they can talk, they can argue, they can preach, and many people can get attracted through their talks, their preaching, their sermons. And talking continuously about God, they may be befooling themselves. By and by they may start feeling that they know.
When you talk about a thing, the greatest danger is that you may start believing that you know. In the beginning when you start to talk, to teach - and teaching has some appeal because it is very ego-fulfilling - when somebody listens to you attentively, deep down it fulfills your ego that you know and he doesn’t know. You are the knower and he is ignorant.
It happened: a priest, a great priest, was called into a madhouse to say a few words to the inmates of that house. The priest was not expecting much, but he was surprised. One madman listened to him so attentively, that he had never seen any man listen to him so attentively. He was just bending forward; each word he was taking into his heart. The man was not even blinking. He was so attentive - as if hypnotized.
When the priest has finished his sermon, he saw that the same man reached to the superintendent and said something to him. He was curious. As soon as possible, he asked the superintendent, "What that man was saying to you? Was he saying something about my sermon?" The superintendent said, "Yes." Asked the priest, "Would you mind to tell me what he said?" The superintendent was a little bit reluctant, but then he said, "Yes. The man said, ’See? I am in and he is out!"
A teacher is exactly in the same place, in the same boat, as you are. He is also an inmate. He has nothing more than you - just a little more information. Information means nothing. You can accumulate; ordinary, average intelligence is needed to accumulate information. One need not be a genius, one need not be very talented. Just average intelligence is enough. You can accumulate information. You can go on accumulating; you can become a teacher.
A teacher is one who knows without knowing. He attracts people, if he is a good talker, a good writer, if he has a personality, if he has a certain charisma about him, magnetic eyes, a forceful body. And by and by he becomes more and more skillful. But the people around him cannot be disciples, they will remain students. Even if he pretends that he is a Master, he cannot make you a disciple. At the most he can make you a student. A student is one who is in search of more information and a teacher is one who has accumulated more information.
One who has found is a Master. He will accept disciples. Students are prohibited; students cannot go there by themselves. Even if they drift and reach somehow, they will leave as soon as possible because he will not be helping you to gather more knowledge. He will try to transform you. He will give you being, not knowledge. He will give you more being, not more knowledge. He will make you centered, and the center is somewhere near the navel, not in the head.
Whosoever lives in the head is eccentric. The word is beautiful: the English word eccentric means off center. Really, he is mad whosoever lives in the head - head is the periphery. You can live in your feet or you can live in your head: the distance from the center is the same.
A teacher helps you to be more and more head-rooted; a Master will uproot you from the head and re-plant you. Exactly it is a re-planting, so much pain is there - bound to be - suffering, anguish, because when you re-plant, the plant has to be uprooted from the soil. It has always been. And then, again, it has to be planted in a new soil. It will take time The old leaves will drop. The whole plant will pass through anguish, uncertainty, not knowing whether he is going to survive or not. It is a rebirth. With a teacher there is no rebirth; with a Master there is a rebirth.
A teacher never changes you. Whatsoever you are, whomsoever you are, he simply gives you more information. He adds in you; he retains the continuity. He may modify you, he may refine you. You may become more cultured, more polished. But you will remain the same: the base will be the same.
With a Master, a discontinuity happens. Your past becomes as if it was never yours - as if it belonged to somebody else, as if you dreamed it. It was not real; it was a nightmare. The continuity breaks. There is a gap. The old drops and the new comes, and between these two there is a gap. That gap is the problem; that gap has to be passed. In that gap many simply become scared and go back, run fast and cling to their old past.
A Master helps you to cross this gap, but for a teacher there is nothing like that; there is no problem. A teacher helps you to learn more; a Master - the first job is to help you to unlearn: that is the difference.
Somebody asked Ramana Maharshi that, "I have come from very far to learn from you. Teach me” Ramana laughed and said, "If you have come to learn, then go somewhere else because here we do the unlearning. Here we don’t teach. You already know too much; that is your problem. More learning and there will be more problems. We teach how to unlearn, how to unwind."