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I am looking for that very specific sutta in the Pâli Canons wherein it is made plain that such a one not having himself attained to liberation, is not qualified to liberate other. The simile, I think, is about being mired in quicksands...

Thank you for your kind attention, your help is very much appreciated.

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The sutta you are looking for can be found in the MN 8 - Sallekha Sutta: Effacement.

Here the Buddha gives the following teaching to Ven. Cunda:

(The way of extinguishing)

  1. “Cunda, that one who is himself sinking in the mud should pull out another who is sinking in the mud is impossible; that one who is not himself sinking in the mud should pull out another who is sinking in the mud is possible. That one who is himself untamed, undisciplined, [with defilements] unextinguished, should tame another, discipline him, and help extinguish [his defilements] is impossible; that one who is himself tamed, disciplined, [with defilements] extinguished, should tame another, discipline him, and help extinguish [his defilements] is possible
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Quicksand similes / references

Following are the only 2 Quicksand references as per SC.

Attaining true liberation / ​is just like this: once rid of afflictions, / ​the quicksand of desires, no one knows / ​whither he went.

And

“Like as a strong man lends a helping hand To weaker, sunk in mire or in quicksand: So, Queen Pancati, thou hast saved me here, With verses sung so sweetly in mine ear.”

Hatthi-Pala Jātaka

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