The Reader and the Read
Truth in Dharma does not focus around a set of views or beliefs. Truth emerges out of the process of events making an impact on our perceptions, experiences and insights. Truth touches us and contributes directly to waking us up. We see what we didn’t’ see before.
In that respect, truth can be found equally in fiction as in non-fiction since truth and information have a different function. Dharma is especially interested in the realised truth of the noble ones around suffering in any manifestation and its utter resolution.
Human beings have a tendency to impart great authority on a book, especially sacred books, or on a scientific theory. We are exposed to a variety of views in the book or theory that we cannot prove through our own experience.We may have to rely upon trust or reason.
I regular receive a request for one of my books. Mercifully, readers are not going to give the book any kind of biblical authority. I do however sense it is worthwhile giving some reflection of the relation of the reader to the read.
What is read has to pass through the mind of the reader. The book does not have any authority in itself. Only the reader can give a book authority. The purpose of a book is to provide insights to the reader. Believers in a certain religious book (The Bible, Torah, Koran etc) may give the book an absolute authority. From a dharma perspective, we do not read and believe. We read to see what is inspirational, insightful and opens up our inner life.
We explore or let go or what does not seem relevant. You see for yourself what is valid for you.We can read the same passage a second or third time and discover a whole new significance in what is read. The reader has a major impact on what is read as well.The read is not separate from the reader.
The purpose of a dharma book, and the teachings of the Buddha, is to contribute to wisdom. It is not to generate a religious culture of believers in THE book. It requires the reader to apply wise discernment rather than just believe. And that surely is more challenging. One line of a poem to a receptive reader can change the direction of a life.