As I see it, the single most fundamental, sweeping and powerful truth in the study of the spiritual, religion, contemplation and practice is probably best summed up in a single sentence. It is an adage that has been popularly attributed to the Buddha:
You are what you think.
The Bible [Proverbs 23:7 Amplified Bible] concisely echoes the same concept:
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so he is.”
This concept is the common denominator from which virtually every serious religious and spiritual philosophy throughout time can be reduced to. When it is followed one becomes the master of ones own destiny. One is no longer the effect of circumstances outside of his or her own control. One is no longer the victim of external circumstances.
When this is realized it can perhaps explain popular notions of attainment of nirvana, enlightenment, the “Kingdom of God”, or as countless popular psychology/philosophy self-help groups have put it, “self-realization.” Perhaps one reaches nirvana when one recognizes it resides within. Perhaps one attains enlightenment when one sees that it is all about how one thinks. Perhaps one enters into the “Kingdom of God” when one recognizes that realm is within one’s own heart. One is “self-realized” when one realizes that one is what one thinks.
As humans use language to conceptualize, communicate and understand, all of humanity requires some degree or level of explanation to appreciate the power that comes with realizing the simplicity that “you are what you think.” Therefore spiritual and religious rituals and doctrines, “The Way” and mythology and related attention-focusing practices fueled by glimpses of this truth can be seen everywhere in society. Countless practices exist to bring us to the point of recognition of the seeming magic that comes with the simple truth that you are what you think.
So powerful is the recognition of this most fundamental truth that the attempted monopolization of it has made inestimable riches for priests, imams, ecclesiastics and gurus of every type. A close analysis of any one of these proprietary “my way or the highway” methods invariably exposes a common defect.
This defect is fatal to the accomplishment of the truth each of these routes professes to lead to. This defect is directly related to the attempted monopolization of the truth.
The defect without exception comes with attempted proprietorship of the truth.
The defect is that submission or yielding to the judgment of the proprietor and his creations (priests, imams, practitioners, institutions, rituals, beliefs) – whether openly required or not. This exact deference ceases or prohibits attainment or realization of the truth the proprietor capitalizes on.
Once one is led to believe that the realization’s continued existence depends on some relationship external to simply self, the truth no longer delivers.
Virtually any practice or “-ism” that openly or covertly requires continued membership, obligation, participation, abstention from other practices or beliefs, becomes a curse to truth itself and all of the benefiting achievements that spring from it.
The best teachers don’t hand you the answers on a silver platter, but point out the way and let you make up you own mind about which road and which destination, while advising where the ditches are.
“True words aren’t eloquent;
eloquent words aren’t true.
Wise men don’t need to prove their point;
men who need to prove their point aren’t wise.”
Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching