Don’t take spiritual concepts too seriously

pine cone

“The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao” Tao te ching, verse 1

We don’t need to take spiritual concepts too seriously. They are there to guide us, to point us in the right direction only. The reality they point to cannot be described. When we start to take teachings too seriously we miss this point and start to become dogmatic.

Any interpretations that are set up and established as truth become meaningless phrases” Bankei

I’ve met people who follow Advaita Vedanta who say that consciousness is what we really are, and others who say what we are is beyond consciousness. Both of these are useful teachings, but don’t take them too seriously, either one of them. Both are useful and untrue. If you take a single position as being true, then that is a belief. Your attachment to a conceptual truth indicates the belief in ego/individuality that underlies it.

“If you think that you know well the truth of Brahman, know that you know little” Kena Upanishad (2.1)

I’m met Buddhists who are obsessed with the idea of emptiness, doing more and more ’emptiness meditations’ in order to realise the truth of this. Whist I’m sure emptiness meditations have their place, guess what, don’t take them too seriously. There is serious irony in someone being attached to teachings on emptiness after all! And it’s not all about emptiness – that’s probably why the Heart Sutra states ‘Form is emptiness, emptiness is form’. These words are not to be taken as gospel truth, they are indicators only of a truth that is beyond words and concepts.

“The instructions on emptiness should be understood as a remedy against our tendency to cling to supposed reality, and nothing else” Heart Advice from a Mahamudra Master by Gendun Rinpoche, p. 169

Everything we can know is conceptual. All concepts are not it. Put another way, if you think you understand it, you don’t. If you think you’ve ‘got it’, you don’t. If you think about it, clinging to conceptual truths is just a subtle form of spiritual materialism. It is there just to give the ego security.

“There will come a time when one will have to forget all that one has learned” Ramana Maharshi from Who Am I

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