We make much of the bodily aspect and it may even seem to us that the spirit is less real than the physical, so a “real” encounter comes to equal a physical one. Yet, only the spiritual component of each encounter is real. Without spiritual consciousness, a physical encounter is unconvincing and with spiritual consciousness the physical encounter may not be required. The external is, at best, an attractive adornment to a real meeting. Our ability to tie an encounter to a certain incarnate body is incidental. It is the energy component of any meeting that is essential.
And what of the bodies of the books and talks? Everywhere the mediators of great thoughts show both grandeur and flaws—the best are like magnificent stained glass windows, but with occasional cracks, splotches of dust, or missing pieces. One must find enough greatness of spirit to love the grandeur while not remaining blind to the flaws.
I do not see total validity or total authenticity in any book or person. I see that spirit pertains to the essence of things, to the rainbow of spirituality that is the foundation of the universe. But all verbal formulas provide a picture that is “through a glass darkly.” The texts we have, like our personalities, are never entirely satisfactory.
There are limits to be considered in every verbal formulation as well as in those of us who draw on the formulas. The value of a good teachings is it’s merit as general guideline and stimulus to thought and reflection. In the details and specifics, and their application to any time and space, there is often much ambiguity and vagueness. So, in a sense, we are still on our own—otherwise put—the intent of a great teaching is not to turn people into “wind up toys.” Teachings are not the truth, but a catalyst to aid us in our approach to the truth.
Suppose we were given a sacred formula, a powerful mantra for awakening consciousness. Say that this open sesame came from one who had the most profound understanding of the creative and evocative power of sound. Were we to use this inspired prescription, would it be effective?
Perhaps the answer is in the analogy of art. We may have the finest instrument, but unless we are able to access our creative powers, the instrument is of limited usefulness. In a meditative sense, we are the instruments and our ability to focus consciousness in a certain way is crucial. Therefore, soulless repetition—even of a great formulation–will have little meaning or power. Likewise, a great song sung without enthusiasm is stripped of most of its value. A great artist puts themselves into their work in a profound way, and they sing or speak from a higher space where true consciousness is behind voice. So also with sound and the art of meditation.