Q.I’m puzzled as to why some of the Teaching I read or hear seems to have power, whereas others saying much the same thing, even in similar words, don’t hit the spot. What is that ‘spot’? Is it just me, personal?
A. There is a personal component, of course, reflecting your stage of comprehension, your background, even your state or mood at the time. But it’s also true that it’s possible to discern the true gold from the gold-plated in a way that’s consistent.
One aspect is where you are responding from—the ‘spot’ in you. Normally the mind weighs ideas and concepts, approving or not, and your emotions respond either attracted, rejecting or simply not engaged.
The ‘spot’ is neither of these. It discerns. It is like an organ of psyche which is alert to a fragrance from far pastures, to the murmur of still waters, to the cry of a bird in the wilderness. It hears and responds, knowing there is something here which is not categorisable, not part of the usual traffic of ideas and emotional currents, which is a tremor from the darkness of what is yet unknown. Something meaning-ful is present.
Having been alerted and picked up the resonance, the next step is to give it attention and follow through. Attention is the training needed to fine-tune this organ of our psyche, otherwise it is flabby and unresponsive. It’s so easy to bypass real significance; a brief stop to register, then on our trammelled way with hardly a second thought.
If you sense true gold, put the work in to uncover it!
The other aspect is that words can originate from that place of discernment, or not. It is mysterious how the same-sounding words can convey meaning with the power to change, or simply lay out ideas and concepts. I can’t identify a formula for this, except to say that I can usually spot immediately when someone knows what they say. The same applies to literature, however ancient: some is direct and potent, some is commentary and second- or multiple-hand, and the life, the transmission or germinating element, has gone. Learning to discern makes it possible to eat living bread!