Q. I’m puzzled as to why some 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. Why? Is it to do with me or the teaching?
A. It’s partly personal 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 true ‘gold’ from ‘gold-plated’ in a way that’s consistent.
One aspect is where you are responding from. Is it a weighing of ideas and concepts, approving or not, and emotions responding either attracted, rejecting or simply not engaged? That’s normal, but it’s not discernment.
There is something in each of us which is like an ‘organ’ in the psyche which is alert in a different way, alert to significance. It picks up a resonance as if it is a fragrance from far pastures, a murmur of still waters, 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; something 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, there’s a next step if it’s not to be immediately forgotten, which is to notice and then to give it attention and follow through. Attention is the training which is essential to fine-tune this organ of our psyche, otherwise it is flabby and unresponsive.
It’s so easy to bypass significance; maybe 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!
But besides your own response, it is mysterious how the same-sounding words from different sources can convey meaning with the power to change, or simply lay out ideas and concepts. Words with power originate from that same discernment, and convey it. I can’t identify a formula for this, except to say that it’s possible to 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 original life is gone.
Therefore, learn to discern and eat living bread.