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I have mentioned this before in other posts but I feel it is worth mentioning again because it is very much related to this post.
I will never intentionally discuss any aspect of spirituality that I do not understand from my own direct knowing. I suppose one could say that this is my "Prime Directive".
How could I speak of it genuinely if it is not in my direct knowing? I will only be repeating what someone else has written. Someone else's thoughts or views. Which may or may not be from direct knowing. I may be the cause of more confusion. Isn't there enough perceived confusion in mind?
If I don't know I will keep my mouth closed. Or I will ask specific questions so that I have a better understanding.
What I will never do is use scripture, as a weapon, to try and discredit other people's words. That's not to suggest that scripture is always used in this way. But I've had countless bulleyes painted on my forehead. So I can say that this is so in some cases.
Sometimes it's simply because one's understanding is only intellectual and the alternate explanation does not fit within one's own interpretation of the scripture. It's all concepts floating around in one's head. It's not a living practice.
Or it may be an honest inquiry. The person may sincerely be making an effort to understand deep within the heart.
But I feel that sometimes what we have read may hinder our progress, if we cling to tightly to them. If our experiences do not match our interpretations of the Scriptures, then we may believe we're headed in the wrong direction. If we close our minds to other possibilities which may not yet be in our own experience; we may hinder our own progression.
Remember that scriptures have been interpreted by many mind's over the centuries before being put into print. How can anyone know that they are valid unless they have known directly? We cannot know unless we live it. How can we use scriptures to defend our points and say to others that they are wrong, when we have not known what the scriptures speak of directly? Moment to moment. It's all or mostly intellectual.
If one desires to defend one's own words and views then please do. But do it from your own experience. Not using someone else's words that you cannot verify from living it, as truth.
So how can I say to another, I disagree with what you say because this Sutta that I have read, interpreted and understood (which is based only on the concepts in my head) disagrees with your statement. It is not in my personal experience. I think I may have experienced a few times But it's not in the Suttas so I disagree.
How arrogant that would be of me to presume that because it's not in my understanding that it is incorrect. Isn't this how we sometimes operate? Because we don't agree then the other person must be wrong? Because we understand their words differently, so their words must be flawed? Maybe we are the ones who are flawed. Maybe it's our conceptual understanding that's flawed. And even if we are 100% accurate, what value is it If it hasn't penetrated our hearts from living it? It's only words in our heads. We don't live it moment to moment. Isn't this why we practice? So that these truths can penetrate our hearts.
Maybe we should approach such discussions related to the scriptures and spirituality always with an open mind and humbly. I mean genuinely humble with an authentic desire to know. And yes this is one of those desires that is completely necessary in order to go beyond craving and desire. How can one practice if there's no desire to do so? We approach discussions with a beginners mind, understanding that our prior views may possibly be incorrect.
There is a Sufi expression which I always keep close to my heart:
Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, ‘Is it true?’ At the second ask, ‘Is it necessary?’ At the third gate ask ‘Is it kind?
"Paying our last respects"
Get yourself down to practice. I am very concerned about my companions. I have no doubts about the Dhamma talks that I give to my group of companions, no matter what the situation. No matter what type, level or subject of talk, I pull it out of my heart to become a talk.
I don’t go and look in the holy scriptures. Understand, I do not look down on the holy scripture, but this inner scripture of my heart, becomes evident on its own.
The Lord Buddha taught us in the holy scriptures, to look for the holy scriptures in our heart. So when the holy scriptures appear in our heart, where else should we look for answers?
See, the teaching is pulled out of my heart to teach you. Teaching according to the scriptures is one thing that is often incorrect.
When one teaches from the textbooks, this means one teaches from memory, including one’s doubts about it. As long as one is suspicious, then teaching others will not lead to certainty. How can the person who listens to this, get the full benefit from it? But when we know and see from within our citta, and pull Dhamma out through knowing and seeing the truth of everything; any audience will gain full benefit from it no matter what level or what depth of Dhamma, as long as it is taken and comes fully from the heart and we are certain about it.
Others use their memory of the scriptures to teach and they just search and grope at it, consequently they teach others on the surface, but there is no base and experience to it. It simply is like this. But the foundation of the truth of Dhamma and the true religion, originates within the heart. All of the truth can be found in the heart. Since this knowledge covers everything in this universe, what can one doubt in this world? There is no doubt.
Source: In Commemoration of Venerable Acharn Maha Bua Ñanasampanno
"Paying our Last Respects"
Pages 62 and 63
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