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My favorite passage: “Conspiritualists romanticize a past that never was while pecking out biblical gravitas over coffee enemas and IV drips.” It’s absolutely perfect. Thank you.

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"The art doesn't make the man, the man makes the art". That's a quote from a Karate sensi, but it is equally applicable to any spiritual tradition. A spiritual rap session like the one above could be written about anything. Pick the best of one and the worst of the other, change the names and you get the same breezy discussion.

When I was a young man I lived in a spiritual retreat centre and the teacher saw me getting a drink of water after a few hot hours in the kitchen garden. He said---through a translator---that when he was my age he'd gone into the kitchen at his temple for a similar drink. His teacher told him that he shouldn't take another sip until he'd dug a new well and drank the water from it. In my callow youth I thought he was talking about how hard he had it. But years later I realized he was talking about the source of our own wisdom.

He also commonly said "you have to figure it out for yourself". That was the lesson I learned from him. No matter how good the teaching, or how attentive the student---he or she will always have to 'figure it our for themself".

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So, u did stop drinking water in front of the Guru, or did you go out and dug a new well? We have to know. I've been thru it, and if was ever in that situation again (not happening), I would just spit the water out in bouts of laughter.

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No. I just figured it out.

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but yes, what was the lesson, or do I have to now "figure" it out :)

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The lesson is to not to just accept any 'wisdom' from an authority figure. You have to think things through and decide if it makes sense or not for yourself. That's the water, and no one else can dig the well for you---you have to do it yourself.

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Ha, i get it now, but are you sure the Guru's guru was teaching him that exact lesson, or just being an ass? That's the problem with the use of Buddhist riddles, they can often be abusive and used in malevolent ways that appear harmless, or dharmic or even enlightening.

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Well, he wasn't a Buddhist but a Daoist---where all that Zen stuff comes from originally.

That's the point I was trying to make in my comment---"the man makes the art, the art doesn't make the man". Something that one person uses properly can be very good---but insofar as it can be used for good, it can also be abused. (As Paracelsus would say "all medicines are poisons---it all comes down to dosage".)

The value of these sorts of evocative statements is that if a student goes through the trouble of 'thinking it out for themselves' they really do learn something 'in their bones'. It's like learning how to use a computer. If someone shows you how to do something, there tends to be very little retention. But if they learn something by 'hacking around' on the computer, it tends to stick.

But the value comes with the danger that the person was just being an ass. In that case, the lesson might be that the teacher is an ass and there's nothing worth learning here. But then again, that might be a very good lesson for the student to learn too.

None of us come into life with a privileged understanding of the world. We literally do have to 'work things out for ourselves'. As I see it there are two islands of stability: you believe the guff, or, you think it's all bosh. Between the two there's a very thin line where you keep a skeptical mind but you sift to see if there's any gold dust hidden in the gravel. Most folks aren't interested/have the right temperment---so they don't bother.

But I would like to offer the minority point of view. The present world isn't paradise---it's something of a capitalist-dominated cult in its own right. It's killing the planet and causing all sorts of misery for people. The impulse people have to want to find something better isn't necessarily a bad thing.

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A good read , thanks Derek. I'll return to it.

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