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A daily exercise in study

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

I’ve been reading Ram Dass’ book Be Here Now and came across this section where he recommends a daily exercise in study:

Daily Exercise

Working with one of the books containing the words of a realized being (e.g., the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, the words of Jesus in the Gospels, Sayings of Ramana Maharshi or Ramakrishna, the I Ching, etc.), take one passage -- perhaps a phrase -- certainly no more than a page. Read and re-read and re-re-read it. Then let your thoughts work around it. Paraphrase it. See how it applies to others and to yourself. Note if and how it differs from the way in which you usually think about things . . . different assumptions, etc. What are its implications regarding your own journey? Read it again. What laws of nature is it reflecting? Then, sitting quietly, let your mind associate to the passage. And then be quiet. Certainly a half hour a day is not too long to spend on this exercise.

He was talking about how to study the writings of others, and which others. It was interesting, he split the general mass of writers up into these four categories,

  1. Realized or enlightened beings. For the most part they have written very little; often their words (e.g., Gospels) have been recorded by disciples.

  2. Spiritual seekers who are very much on the path and are sharing their insights, methods, etc.

  3. Pandits, intellectuals, scientists who evolve highly intellectually sophisticated subtle models and explanations of the mystical experience. (The veil for many of these writers is still heavy, though often they have had some mystical experience of their own on which to anchor their writings.)

  4. Professional writers who write objective, superficial, and quite external accounts of mysticism. They seek the "facts."

It occurred to me that this could also be applied to writers in Buddhism. Worth thinking about, anyway, as an alternative to the way we usually approach books.

BunksNirvanalobsterrocala

Comments

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    I think for the most part, consciously (or sub-consciously) some of us already do this when approaching books or listening to talks given by spiritual teachers with or without scientific backgrounds, mystics or those who like to give the cold hard facts ...

    But I guess what's most important is to see for oneself "Ehipassiko" in the long run this is where the truth lies...

    Nirvana
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited January 4

    It’s also the way the book is written... some books are written just to be read casually, others are written to be slowly digested sentence by sentence. The Tao Te Ching is one of the latter, sometimes I do an entire day with one verse.

    Here is the whole of Ram Dass’ early epic Be Here Now by the way, it’s quite special...

    http://beherenow.synergize.co/?i=1

    Nirvana
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Tao Te Ching is one of the latter, sometimes I do an entire day with one verse.

    It is a master peace.

    Here is one for a day or more ...

    “The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”
    ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Shoshin said:
    I think for the most part, consciously (or sub-consciously) some of us already do this when approaching books or listening to talks given by spiritual teachers with or without scientific backgrounds, mystics or those who like to give the cold hard facts ...

    The thing is, so many people think that a book is only going to be valuable if it has at least 250 pages and is a decent size, and then read 30 pages an hour until they’ve consumed it and then put it on the shelf.

    But I guess what's most important is to see for oneself "Ehipassiko" in the long run this is where the truth lies...

    Yes, but often people don’t have the sense of their own mind to notice when a piece of writing has a truly transformative effect, and when one should be spending time with a book rather than just consuming it.

    lobster
  • federicafederica Deep-fried Dharma Batter Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited January 7

    I personally feel that if a piece of writing is able to exert a transformative effect, you have most definitely the sense of mind to feel it, and you feel it at the time of reading.

    That was exactly the case with me when I first picked up the copy of "The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying". It struck me between the eyes on virtually every single page. The effect was both profound and lasting.

    Bunks
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