Recently I’ve encountered a few places where Buddhism is described in somewhat poetic terms, like this piece of a meditation:
Effortless attention, unbounded awareness.
Recognise in the silence what you are at the deepest point within. Pure consciousness.
However, if you truly explore yourself within, you may find that attention requires effort to keep you from losing focus, or that awareness is not unbounded but that you exist within a pool of awareness centred around the body. So are those words true?
It occurs to me that the writers of the above meditation text may have just written the words because they looked beautiful on the page and appealed to their aesthetic sensibilities. It’s like composing poetry, where you try to evoke certain emotions in the reader.
But I think for a meditation text one shouldn’t be trying for a poetic angle, a true man of understanding will stick to the linear truth, what one might actually encounter in meditation. Otherwise the text isn’t much use as a guide, I would say.
So there is a certain tension between poetic writing and directly truthful writing, and for the sake of understanding and being able to apply what you read, you need to know which is which. It requires a fairly sophisticated understanding of language. It varies very much what you are reading, I find someone like Ajahn Chah to be very plain and explanatory, but a lot of Zen materials are more poetic.
Do you often make these kind of distinctions when reading texts?