One of the biggest pieces of the spiritual process is simply getting connected to Truth. Yes, that’s truth with the big T. It looks impressive, doesn’t it? There is a big difference between truth and Truth, and that’s why it’s important to immerse yourself in stuff with the big T. You already know a lot of the literature. The Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Baghavad Gita, and many others are examples of where you can find it. Plus, there are many new teachers springing up left and right such as Eckhart Tolle, Don Miguel Ruiz, and more.
And thanks to the Internet, there are countless spiritual websites and blogs from so many different lesser known spiritual teachers. However, I always encourage you to use your intuition to find what feels true, which doesn’t mean it always feels good or convenient by the way. Additionally, try not to get to caught up in creating a lot of beliefs. Ultimately, awakened state is beyond “beliefs.” It simply is. Our minds use beliefs to help us understand and interpret life. Hopefully this blog post will help you find a few spiritual texts to better understand this and many other truths.
By the way, I think you may find this spiritual awakening blog post helpful as well:
Between Disbelief and Belief
Read, But Read Smart
Thich Nhat Hanh has said:
“We must not be attached to a view or a doctrine, even a Buddhist one. .. . The Buddha said that if in a certain moment or place you adopt something as the absolute truth, and you attach to that, then you will no longer have any chance to reach the truth. Even when the truth comes and knocks on your door, and asks you to open the door, you won’t recognize it. So you must not be too attached to dogma–to what you believe, and to what you perceive. [in an interview with Diane Wolkstein featured in Parabola Vol 30 No 4]”
Along with not getting attached to concepts, the point of all the reading is to use your discernment. Start to find what feels true to you in your heart. Blind faith and adoption of doctrine doesn’t get you anywhere. In some respects, it’ll drive you further from the Truth because your intellect really isn’t engaged. If all you’re practicing is some kind of rote memorization, all you really know is what you’re remembering. You have to learn to take lessons and apply them to yourself. You also have to take the knowledge and find out if it fits your life circumstances. It’s not that you get to be selective in what you do or don’t buy into exactly, but there’s a lot of excess stuff that gets in the way of seeing everything clearly and knowing yourself.
Take, for example, the Buddhist mandate to do no harm. It’s great statement in principle, and as you come to really understand and embody this principle, you’ll be amazed at the peace and stillness that comes from truly understanding it. However, if you aren’t using your discernment, you can get caught in mental abstractions that don’t help you. One thing that comes to mind is a situation for a lot indigenous arctic tribes. A lot of Buddhists become vegetarians because they don’t want to harm animals. If you’re in the right circumstances, that’s great. But if your main dietary need is met through eating seals as is for an arctic tribe, then this principle becomes problematic quickly.
I know that I’m taking a what seems to be a rather far-fetched example and am running with it, but there are plenty of other examples where you have to look at a principle such as “Do no harm” to really understand it and embody it. If you don’t fully understand it, you’ll be frustrated by the impossibility of the statement. You’ll realize that antibiotics kill bacteria in your body when you take them. So is it okay to take that? You’re killing plants to eat. Is harming vegetation okay? Under what circumstances is it okay to harm something? These are ways that the mind can get out of control. So while you develop a deftness of intellectual discernment in reading, you’ll also have to understand that at some point the mind must be let go to reach the truth of Being.
What I Read in Past Summers
Okay, so I’ve read these in summers as well as winters, autumns, and springs, but here are some of the books that have helped me.
- Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
- A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
- The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz
- The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
- The Sufis by Idries Shah
- The Essential Rumi compiled by Coleman Barks
- The Bible
- The Baghavad Gita
- Ethics for the New Millennium by the Dalai Lama
- The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama
- What’s Right with Islam by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
- Rolling Thunder by Doug Boyd
- Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
There are plenty more. Hafiz is another great poet to read if you enjoy Rumi.
These build up through the years in the depths of your soul. They help to build your intellectual framework so that you can hold space for the spiritual experience. Most of our minds are much too small and caught up in useless minutiae to understand and process the depth of a spiritual awakening. But with your own spiritual literacy program, you’ll be turning the mind to a deeper, sacred purpose. In so doing, you are taking the first steps towards your own freedom.
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