A. Ancient masters always advised us not to read books if we hoped to reach the final goal. However good a book on enlightenment you may read, you can’t reach the final goal through reading books without practice. Masters discouraged us from reading books because reading leads us to feel as if we were approaching the final goal as we get more knowledge on the final goal. In fact, getting more knowledge is collecting more illusions and strengthening the solidity of your illusions while reaching the final goal means breaking illusions. Actually we are going farther away in the opposite direction from the final goal against our intention.
Why do few people reach the final goal though so many people are reading so many books including the Sutras and the Bible around the world? Are the Sutras and the Bible telling a lie? It is not because they are telling a lie but because we can’t digest what they mean. The final goal, the truth, is compared to a cure-all that gives an eternal life to ill people who take it. But the cure-all is so invisible that it is almost impossible to discern it. And what all books, including the Bible and the Sutras, are saying about it is not the cure-all itself but wrapping papers that can help people to recognise the contents, the cure-all. Most people mistake swallowing the wrapping paper for taking the contents, or cure-all. If we had taken a true cure-all, we would have become well instantly.
I don’t want to discourage you from reading books, but I’d like to invite you to change the way of reading books in order to take the cure-all, instead of swallowing the wrapping paper. You should bear it in mind that every single word of the book you read is the gate to the truth, the final goal. If you digest only a single word through your body from any book you read, you can reach the final goal. If you have not reached the final goal after reading so many books, it means that you have not understood even a single word of so many words you have read. You took only wrapping papers. Trace back to the root the word or a sentence you believe you understand, or you like. That is to try to see beyond the word, an illusion. This can be compared to tearing the wrapping paper. If you can see the root, you can be said to have digested the book perfectly, to have reached the final goal. Try to see the root of each word or each sentence as perfectly as possible, instead of trying to read as many books as possible. That is a kind of Zen practice as well.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway.