Friday, June 26, 2015

Reading Texts

Buddhists and Christians often reading sacred texts in order to gain understanding, and this is a good thing. However, the texts are also meant for meditative reading and this really should be what ultimately guides understanding as well. Often, for modern westerners, Buddhist and Christian traditional texts can seem repetitive, meandering, pointless, or worse, evil minded (e.g., some passages in the old testament make God and his people sound like a bunch of crooked real estate agents). However, spending time on the texts, saying them slowly and with a meditative rather than analytical focus, possibly visualizing them, can spontaneously produce new and deeper insights. On another level altogether, this practice can also sometime produce powerful emotional and spiritual responses without any accompanying insight. These can hit you in different ways but regardless the point is not to analyze them but to sit with them and experience therm. In this way, a text that you cannot intellectually connect with can be an important tool. Thomas Merton was initially drawn to Christianity because sitting in churches gave him a feeling he could not explain. I think texts work in this way too. Many things can work in this way, even things from your own life.

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