From Dante’s Inferno:
…weigh with good understanding what lies hidden…
I read through the poet’s Canto once. A couple of thoughts touch me, yet mostly it is mush. I read the interpreter’s explanations and think, “Oh, I didn’t know that.” I realize that it is much easier for me to read the interpreter than the poet. I think, “Why bother reading the poet who is the source? Why not just read the interpreter?” I pause. I think. I shut my eyes and listen for the Spirit. I listen for Jesus. I listen for my companions.
It took me more than one reading to even see the line I quoted above; where the poet encourages me to find his hidden meanings.
That a source text is mush after one reading is not a new phenomenon. The Bible is mush the first time you try to read it. A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is mush the first time you read it. Heidegger’s “Being and Time” is mush the first time you read it. The Rule of Benedict is another example of source material which is ignored by many in favor of clever explanations written by revered monks. Spiritual texts are always mush the first time you read them. You can do like most people: skip the source text and just read other people’s opinions which have been dumbed down. When you accept other people’s opinions as your meaning, you are accepting a second hand experience of a source. Instead, you can apply yourself to the text and try, working together with your Inner Being, to see what it is saying to you; try to listen and learn. Try to think. What is this saying to me today?
Dante’s references to Italian history and Greek mythology don’t mean anything to me. Even so, if I slowly read the text several times, pausing frequently to think, deeper and deeper thoughts occur to me. Doors open. My heart is touched. The frame work of the poet’s journey becomes clear and I see how it is so similar to my own spiritual journey. I integrate the poet into my previous learning so that he becomes part of the fabric of my existance. The poet’s experience becomes my first hand experience. I enter into authentic experience versus someone else’s experience.
I realize I need to do the same in depth thinking about my own life as I do to understand Dante or the Bible or A Course in Miracles or Heidegger or any spiritual source material. I have a richness about me which is revealed in deeper thinking about my life; its physical, mental and spiritual nuances.
If you reading this are a teacher, I say to you: teach your students how to read and think. Don’t just tell them what things are supposed to mean. How to understand is the only thing a teacher should ever teach.
I am trying to learn to love pure water above all else. Who likes pure water better than flavored drinks? Who likes pure water without any caffeine thrill? I am trying to love pure water. I drink the pure water and listen to my thoughts and feelings. I listen to my cravings. Then, in an act of sheer determination, I drink a little more water. I want to know Pure Spirit as well. I want Pure Christ Consciousness to be the one thing I love and prefer above all else. And so I sit in silence and try to drink the Pure Spirit and the Pure Christ.