Today I want to make a rather bold and shocking statement. This statement is controversial and dangerous, as in the wrong hands it can lead to crimes and atrocities committed in the name of righteous superiority.
This statement has the dual power of either reinforcing or destroying the ego. It can lead one towards the blissful void of spiritual self-realization, as well as down the abyss of absolute ego-maniacal narcissism.
But such is the nature of the spiritual path: a selective force of consciousness, where at every moment of every day one chooses to either awaken or slumber. Spiritual awakening is in every case a traumatizing and dangerous affair — how else should being suddenly pulled out of the most pleasant of unrealistic dreams feel like? A dream which, ultimately, is merely the protective veil cast over the soul by an overly caring mother-ego.
And so if the statement that's to come seems like it feels good at first reading, then I invite you to take a bit of a step back. For if this statement feels good to any part of your being, then that part of your being is very likely under the guise of the mind-ego.
Awakening to Truth
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with finding oneself under the protective veil of the ego. Our ego is there for a reason: to provide safety, comfort, warmth and fuzziness. It is, in intention at least, our most loving of friends. It keeps us carefully wrapped in its protective arms, as a mother tending her child, for sake of our own assured survival within the unforgiving realm of collective consciousness.
Beyond the ego lies spiritual no-man’s-land, fraught with fear — fear being this ultimate danger from which the ego strives to protect us. It shields us from fear by keeping the mind busy and constantly occupied through such pursuits as those of desire, achievement, fame, validation, and happiness — all things that, as a rule, will fail to ever truly materialize — the pursuit rather than goal being the point of it all.
The world is full of dangers which we are deemed better not see — death chief amongst them, and we’re somehow hypnotised into believing death is ultimately undesirable and to be pushed away at all cost. The foremost victim of these endless pursuits is of course truth. We are as horses dressed with blinkers, allowed only to see what lies directly ahead — ahead being the carrot of desire hanging at the end of the string of pursuit, itself attached to the stick of fear. The horse rider is, of course, who else but our very selves — dressed gloriously in brightly shining ego-armor. This masquerade, this endless pursuit of desire claiming itself as happiness, is the masterly crafted stratagem that keeps us safely away from courting the true nature of reality.
Spiritual awakening is as removing the blinkers and seeing what lies beyond the carrot. It’s a traumatizing and sudden affair, and I wouldn’t dare tell you that all the trauma is really worth it. Perhaps it’s better to remain entrenched in the pleasantness of the illusion — I do not know. But this argument just might be pointless, for spiritual awakening isn’t something to be sought. Awakening is merely something that happens as the unreality of the dream suddenly and traumatically becomes impossible to bear. It’s a call from within to which resisting only helps in dropping one deeper and deeper within the abyss of suffering — a tumble which risks placing the whole affair of life face-to-face with a two-sided decision: to either accept the call to awakening and step into the void of reality, or to end the journey altogether, here and now.
What lies beyond this spiritual no-man’s-land of awakening, I do not know. Perhaps it’s all no-man’s-land, or perhaps that’s where the simple notion of man is to be allowed to dissolve and disappear in what transcends our understanding of existence. Perhaps it’s merely incomprehensible to the rational mind.
The call to spiritual awakening happened on a few different occasions through my life. Most of these calls I ended up ignoring, retreating safely away to the comforts of my ego at the sheer sight and magnitude of those naked fears I was brutally faced with. It’s only when life became utterly and completely unbearable that I found myself mustering the courage to ride through the first wave of fear. And I wouldn’t want to mislead you: that wave of fear is still very much alive, years later. Every moment of every day, I feel the fear at my side — but rather than continuing to run away from it, I have embraced it. I have transformed the boogeyman into a trusted companion. I have learned that fear guides the way to every single thing worth experiencing in this life, and I have learned that fear is merely the culmination in the expression of what is ultimately the very nature of life: vulnerability.
Awakening spiritually is a journey into fears. Into every fear. There can be no selection, there can be no judgment into which fear we want to face and which we prefer not to. Judging the fears is itself an expression of the ego, and only serves to create another prison. This prison will have the appearance of higher spiritual status, but ultimately there is no prison which may claim any sort of spiritual status. Spiritual liberation is a sort of absolute: there can be no compromise — it has to be all in, and it sees no end: the rabbit hole goes all the way to the bottom. At this bottom lies the truth — the ultimate truth to the ultimate question: who am I? — that very thing from which the ego strives so vehemently to protect us, the very nature of who we really are.
There is no Truth but Your Own Truth
The rabbit’s out of the hat. The most dangerous words you might ever read: there is no truth but your own truth.
Now, I’ll invite you to check with yourself: does your ego feel flattered by these words? Are you experiencing a warm fuzzy feeling of goodness and validation inside you? The truth, the ultimate truth as to the nature of reality — the question as well as the answer to everything — is to be found right within you. Be watchful of the ego being seemingly flattered by this statement, however, for your ego is the very thing that is ultimately keeping you from that truth.
There is no truth but your own truth may seem innocuous on the surface and may flatter the ego, but its underlying dual message is one of grave importance: that you and only you are responsible for your own existence. When I say you, I mean you. Not the ego, not the mind, but the real you underneath it all. And so in order to get to that truth, one must first thoroughly explore the question: who am I?
The spiritual path is something to be walked alone, for ultimately the path is all about uncovering the truth of who you are. This truth is, ultimately, yours and yours alone. It cannot be shared and it cannot be taught. Should you feel a desire to find ready-made answers in spiritual literature or through teachers or gurus, then beware of the ego turning into a mighty trojan horse — looking to build a renewed prison from the inside, all under the guise of spiritual aggrandisement.
The path to spiritual self-realization is one that goes straight through the fears — and there are no shortcuts. By stepping through and embracing the fears, we come to transform the dread of loneliness into the peace of aloneness, and the avoidance of death into a celebration of life. By diving within ourselves, suffering is transcended and the bliss of existence is allowed to blossom in all its glory.
If spiritual liberation requires that we embrace our fears, I am however not preaching a masochistic attitude. There are plenty of people who pursue spirituality through asceticism, the renouncing of worldly pleasures and possessions — in some cases making it a point to pursue pain and displeasure as a practice. There is wisdom in such a path, yet there are some who pursue this type of philosophy as a means of avoiding their fears: fear of the worldly experiences of pleasure and pain and everything that accompanies those. This may quite simply be avoidance in disguise, a giving-in to the fears of a different kind.
If one should pursue spirituality as a form of avoidance, then one is again digging deeper within the confines of the ego. Un-attachment, the state of accepting whatever comes our way without clinging or excessively desiring one outcome over the other, is quintessential to self-liberation — for attachment only serves to make us controllable and manipulable (be that by the ego, other individuals, or the fabric of society). If we should be attached to life, then fear of death will be used against us. If we should be attached to love, then the air is ripe for codependency and narcissistic manipulation. If we should be addicted to pleasure, then the whole socio-economic system will reel us in through promises of consumerist fulfillment and lures of monetary gain.
Avoidance and addiction are symptoms of the most severe forms of attachment, and care should be taken in bringing them to conscious awareness through allowance and acceptance — a process I dare call self-love. The denial or repression of avoidance is itself a form of avoidance and attachment, and the way out of attachment is always allowance and acceptance. The vicious circle of doubt and shame promoted by the ego can only be broken through love (unattached love, that is).
Loving acceptance and allowance is, in the end, the right response to everything — especially those things in us which we fear or deny or wish to repress — whether it be fear, denial, repression, or shame. Fire must be fought with water, not fire.
The Myth of Truth
As we are raised through society into accepting anything and everything anyone with a semblance of authority says about anything (they call this education), the message I evangelize here is bound to confuse. I’m making the bold statement that there isn’t such a thing as truth in general — including everything I’m writing here.
The word truth is of course, as any other word, tied to a sense of linguistic ambiguity and context-dependence. It’s very useful to agree, in everyday life, that certain things are true and others not. It wouldn’t be very helpful to have a metaphysical argument over whether the stop light really was red. But in terms of spirituality, it becomes urgently important to dispel the myth of what our education system conditions us into believing constitutes a truth.
The concept of truth or fact, as generally accepted linguistically, refers to something which is relative — never absolute. Something is true or factual because people generally agree on it being so. The stop light is red because most people say it is red. Some may disagree however, for cause of colorblindness or perhaps some peculiarities in how their brains function — and for this we mitigate the issue through means like adding geometrical forms to the lights, but ultimately there is no one way to guarantee that absolutely everyone will agree with the factuality of the social ideology. Yes, I call the definition of the color red a social ideology, as it’s merely an idea held and agreed upon by a group of people. The definition of a color varies across the world — some may believe the sun is yellow and others orange. These are not facts that can be proven and forced onto people: that the sun is either yellow or orange stands in the realm of belief just as the the nature of God does. It’s a basic premise which exists in the mind without a need for rationalization. They call that an axiom.
Scientific facts are, similarly, not truths in the absolute manner. The color red being defined as a wavelength of approximately 700 nm is merely another social construct, a generally-agreed upon idea. The same is true of all scientific facts: the law of gravity is not a law but an idea constructed out of meticulous observations, and in the absolute sense it’s simply wrong — it works well within certain contexts but breaks down once certain circumstances arise, as in the case of satellites — a point at which Einstein’s theory of relativity comes to the rescue. But even Einstein’s findings have their limits, and whence they break down quantum mechanics come to the rescue. But even quantum mechanics are only found to be true within a limited contextual scope.
Science has thus far failed to produce any theories that stand the test of absoluteness: everything deemed a fact in science is valid only in relative terms — thought of course it’s helpful to consider these facts as truth, so long as we’re conscious of their limits. Lack of such consciousness leads many would-be scientists into believing such things as the non-existence of God, a statement which lies entirely in the domain of opinion.
Science never has and very likely never will be able to make a definitive statement on the existence of God, for the simple reason that it hasn’t and probably never will be able able to make a definitive statement about anything. Science is about observations, and as such it can only describe the behaviour of the observable. Whoever insists on either disproving God through science or disproving science through God might want to choose a life path less likely to be dominated by frustration — pardon me for the cynicism.
Now, what about mathematics? Mathematics exist in the realm of the mind — they’re entirely conceptual and have no actual mapping to reality. I’ve heard such claims as: without mathematics, nothing would exist — but that’s a rather fallacious statement. Mathematics are a mental model, a tool we created to help us study and understand natural phenomena. Nature doesn’t follow the laws of mathematics — it’s rather the laws of mathematics which were carefully crafted to follow nature. There is no such thing as the value “1” in nature — numbers exist only in the mind. One apple plus another apple does not yield two apples — both apples being different, the result is one apple plus a different apple. It’s of course helpful and perfectly reasonable to assume that two apples are identical for the purpose of commerce, making the idea of oneness a helpful collective agreement. But it’s nonetheless yet another fact that is merely relative and context-specific.
My intention here isn’t to trash talk science — I consider myself very scientifically-minded (having a background in computer science). I merely want to state how important it is to understand that science isn’t everything. Insisting that science should apply to and solve every apparent problem in the universe stands in the realm of belief, on level ground with a belief in a bearded man in the sky being in control of it all. Science has its place, and a very important place that is — but if something can’t be explained by science, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I believe every single one of us has been conscious of events or happenings which defy reason. Should we consider ourselves individually crazy, relegating all sense of normality and rationality to the limited subset of existence which is to be agreed upon by the collective?
Science, I will propose, is concerned with what is collectively understandable and agreeable. Spirituality, as its complement, explores the realm of individual experiences — those very things we don't all agree on. But if we can't agree on them, I'll propose that it's largely because language fails at expressing the spiritual aspects of this universe in an adequate way — that too much gets lost in translation.
When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the slightest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.
― Hsin Hsin Ming (Zen Poem)
Finding Your Own Truth
Everything I’ve come to write here is, of course, my opinion. You’re entirely free to believe it or not — but I would strongly encourage you not to believe it.
Yes, don’t believe a word I say or write — nor anyone else’s for that matter. Make up your own mind.
Let my words be a spark of inspiration, a destabilizing agent in the way your mind’s been conditioned to interpret reality. Let my opinions be a seed of curiosity for you, a rebirth of the childhood naivete which was so extirpated from you by the social fabric and education system.
Everything anyone ever says, writes, or expresses in any way whatsoever constitutes a subjective opinion of theirs. Humans are by nature subjective, irrational, and emotional. And that’s just fine.
But don’t take my word for it, let’s go through a thought-experiment together. Say there was something like an absolute, all-encompassing and unquestionable truth in this universe. This truth would have to come from an absolute, all-encompassing and unquestionable source. Let’s call that source God (but feel free to substitute your favourite metaphysical entity). God comes around and chooses a favorite human to reveal this absolute unquestionable truth to.
What happens to this truth in the process of revelation? Let’s assume God knows how to make sure that the truth is received and understood in a way as to remain uncorrupted — its absolute nature untarnished by the conditioning, limited intellect, cultural identity, and irrational nature of the chosen human. This human now holds the truth, the ultimate wisdom of God.
Now, this human will very likely wish to share this divine revelation with fellow humans. How might they go about it? Likely by speech, through writing, or through art — I’m guessing. But here’s the situation: as soon as we want to transmit whatever truth we hold to another being, we come to the unavoidable snag of the limited means with which we’re able to communicate. To be shared with other humans, before it can even be expressed through speech or writing, the divine revelation first has to be transformed into thought.
Thoughts are a very limited tool for expressing the nature of the world: they’re limited to concepts — generally rational ones — and can only really grasp one of these concepts at a time. The scope of divine truths which could be grasped and understood by the mind is therefore rather limited.
But even if we assumed God’s truth to be simplifiable to abstract rational thoughts graspable by a lowly human mind, we’ll quickly hit the next snag: language. Expressing a thought, clearly and unambiguously through language is quite the daunting task. Words and natural language are in their very nature ambiguous, hence it’s so difficult to program a computer to understand and express itself through natural language. I could hardly think of a single word, let alone a sentence or a large text, that could be written in such a way as to exclude all possibilities of misinterpretation — certain words simply mean different things to different people. Also, speech can't in general be separated from emotional processes: how we interpret what someone says can shift wildly depending on the emotional state we’re presently in.
Speech (and written language) are profoundly non-deterministic: there’s no way for a speaker to be anywhere near certain of how their words will be understood by the audience, regardless of the amount of care that goes into choosing and crafting individual words.
If you follow me, the point I’m trying to make is that it doesn’t actually matter whether or not absolute truths exist. Assuming there were absolute truths, whoever possessed them wouldn’t be capable of expressing or transmitting them to anyone in a way that preserved the original intent. The very nature of human communication is in every way utterly subjective and unreliable.
The Only Truth is Your Own
Truth, if it exists, gets defeated the moment we attempt to share or teach it. The more complex the truth, the more of it likely gets lost in translation.
The only absolute truth which anyone may possess, then, is the one they’ve discovered for themselves. It may arise spontaneously within, in what some may call divine revelations, or may be derived from personal experience. I’ll choose to call these spiritual truths, as a means of distinguishing them from social or scientific truths. Spiritual truths are, in a strange way, absolute — but of a sort of absolutism which defies the rational logic of the mind. Sometimes we just know things, and we don’t know why and where from. This is what I mean by absolute, as these are at least in appearance not derived from (and therefore note relative to) anything else. This is intuitive knowledge, and it might just be beneficial to our quality of life if we simply accepted intuitive knowledge rather than beating ourselves down when what we know deep inside doesn't seem to agree with what the social fabric wants us to believe in.
It begs me to reiterate that whatever genuine and authentic spiritual truth I may have is my own and only my own — regardless of whether it’s divine revelation or intuitive knowledge. I can label it as I will — I can call it God’s truth and deem myself a prophet — but that can only genuinely be my truth and no one else’s.
If I sincerely believe that God is speaking to me, in any case, then why should I care to convince other people of this? Why would I need everyone to know and believe that I am the chosen recipient of God’s wisdom? Just about anyone could claim such a thing — and who other than my ego should be fulfilled from having a slew of people believe in my divine specialness? We're ultimately all special, it's just that some of us accept and realize that fact more than others. The ego is, in this, screaming for attention unnecessarily.
Now is where things get spicy, and why I started the article with those paragraphs of disclaimer. My intention with this article is to plant the seed of empowerment within you. This empowerment is directly linked to trusting the truth of your own personal experiences: that whatever you experience in life, be it that chocolate is the greatest thing in the universe, or that God is personally speaking to you — those are your truths and they’re absolutely and perfectly valid in all regards.
No one has the right to tell you that your experiences, be they rational or irrational, constitute falsehood or non-sense just because they appear to disagree with theirs (and vice-versa, of course). This disagreement is in every case an illusion cast by the ego — for the ego is ever bent on creating artificial conflicts between I and them. That conflict is merely a prerequisite for either the ego’s aggrandising of itself or the belittling of others.
The moment I try to share my truths with others, particularly if I righteously preach their absolute and unquestionable nature around, then I find myself pursuing the hopeless pursuits of the ego. Others may choose to believe me, but if belief means they come to adopt my truth as their own, then these people give away all sense of self-empowerment. They surrender, not to someone else’s truth, but to their mind’s understanding of someone else’s interpretation of the conceptualized version of their truth. It doesn’t even matter at that point whether the original truth really was truth — once we blindly believe, we place our fate in the hands of another. We voluntarily give up our right to self-determination.
Whole religious wars are fought as a direct result of this kind of misunderstanding. God speaks to various people from different cultures, and when these people come to the table they misunderstand each other (for all the reasons listed above and more!) and conclude they’ve got different revelations from different gods. They’re individually convinced of the absolute nature of their truth (perhaps rightly so), but squabble over differences arising from their translating God’s divine revelations into thoughts, to Aramaic, to Hebrew, to Latin, to English, and finally to their own personal interpretation that’s distorted by their understandings of language and culture and theology and whether they had their coffee that day. Whatever I may understand of the original divine revelation is bound to be a completely different version of the original message. The final deadly step is that of my ego taking possession of the distorted facts, twisting and deforming it in a way that serves the ego’s quest for supremacy and survival. There goes yet another war in the name of who’s righter than whom.
There is never a winner in the game of who’s right.
But That's not Truth, Either
Much of the nonsense I’ve been scribbling about so far has to do with our fundamental misidentification with things like the mind and the ego. We’re so profoundly conditioned as we grow up to pedestalize our rational reasoning at the cost of demonizing intuitive reasoning, that we come to believe that the nature of I is the mind. This belief is what gives rise to the mighty ego as the head of it all — the very veil of rational reasoning and absoluteness that’s pulled in front of our consciousness for sake of protection from the harsh nature of reality. Another name for this ego-veil is lie — the great lie we tell ourselves to avoid contemplating the possibility that I might not be so important after all.
The ego is, in the end, a mere thought that dwells in the confines of the mind. It’s an idea, a belief — and as such it couldn’t be farther from who we truly are. Who am I? is the most fundamental question on the spiritual path. This inquiry into my own nature is the very foundation of spiritual awakening — awakening being the realization that I’m utterly attached to a definition of me which is blatantly false and which only serves to keep me in a state of cynical misery.
Such attachment to thought-concepts isn’t inherent to the human condition, however. I’ve just spent several days in the company of an aboriginal man from the Ecuadorian Andes whose ego (if I may call it that) works very differently from what is generally conditioned within modern Western society. His people grow up less rational and more spiritual — their language, social and culture habits being reflective of this. Simply put: there are people on this Earth who are raised without an inherent identification with the mind and who therefore naturally understand the difference between the illusion of the thought-world and the genuine reality that lies beyond it — a reality ungraspable by the rational mind or the desire-obsessed ego. The overly rational and pseudo-materialistic ways in which we might be conditioned is therefore clearly not the only way, and perhaps not even the natural way. Spiritual awakening may only be a thing in societies which contrive their members to self-hypnosis.
This approach to reality which seems to espouse a more balanced approach to both rational and irrational parts of ourselves is what must be courted if we’re to shed our false identity. For this to happen, we must be willing to open up in receiving the truths this reality has to communicate — predominantly through intuition. For this we must unlearn, sweep away all rational and dogmatic beliefs into the nature of I — a process some call ego dissolution. But to enable this, it’s first necessary to initiate the difficult process of detachment from the mind, the judgments, the concepts, the emotions, and the body — coming to see all of these things as integral components of a democratic organism where nothing is specifically in charge. So long as I believe that something in me is in charge — be that the mind or emotions or the soul — then I am intrinsically conditioned with a subconscious belief in the nature of I being that thing in charge. This belief is in the end merely a thought, a concept (as are all beliefs), and forms the perfect basis for an ego to claim power over me.
This process of detachment from the ego is generally to be brought on through meditation. As a word, meditation is of course loaded with ambiguity and subject to interpretation. Yet here, I am specifically referring to meditation as a practiced throughout Eastern forms of spirituality, as the means to opening ourselves up to the void of pure unconceptualized experience — that is, not centered nor controlled nor managed by the mind and the beliefs it manifests, but as loving harmony of our being as a whole. This loving harmony must naturally include the mind and its beliefs and concepts, for they are part of the democratic ensemble — but care must be taken not to put them in charge.
The experience of ego dissolution brought by meditation is the truth I have been hinting at since the beginning of this article. It’s the ultimate experiential truth of being, as its discovery inherently sheds all of the lies we spent a lifetime constructing for ourselves. It’s what’s allowed to blossom once we’ve examined and discarded everything about us we thought was in charge.
Once we peel away the layers of the identity onion through contemplative witnessing meditation, we are left with nothing — as whatever we are, the observer, is the one thing which cannot be observed. We become faced with an indescribable void: the true nature of I — and if I say void, it is not because there is nothing there, but rather that there is nothing there that the mind can see or describe. Whatever exists there cannot be described using thoughts, words, concepts, or ideas. It can only be known through experience.
Contact with this strange kind of nothingness brings about the realization that, if I am nothing, then I must also be everything. In this transcendent state of consciousness, duality is replaced by totality.
Now, pardon me for being so vague and poetic in my definition of the nature of spiritual self-realization. These things exist in a reality which the rational mind cannot enter, so it’s impossible to do them justice with words. All words can do is hint or point at. As a famous saying goes: if I point my finger at the moon, don’t look at my finger — look at the moon!
Truth, in the spiritual sense, ultimately lies in the domain of experience. It’s only by experiencing something ourselves that we can come to comprehend it fully. Conceptual understanding, a necessary part of it all and not to be dismissed or demonized, is in itself insufficient — partial in that the mind is but a minor component of what we are. If there are some things in this universe which are completely conceptual in nature, science and mathematics for example, then I premise that these are in their very nature only part of the ultimate answer — incomplete in that they address at best half of the perspective, half of the duality.
You are Your Own Guru
My words, or anyone else’s words for that matter, cannot express nor teach you the true nature of anything genuinely and totally real. I like to define spiritual as an umbrella term for anything and everything which might be ungraspable to the mind. If the mind is concerned with rational concepts, then the spirit thrives on irrationality. Together, mind and spirit join to form the duality of worldly existence, the yin and the yang. If we can accept both aspects as integrally crucial to reality, and if we embrace and surrender to each completely and without restraint, then perhaps the transcendent nature of ultimate reality might just reveal itself.
The mind is fundamentally not an adequate tool for teaching or studying spirituality. Speech, words, and concepts are but a poor substitute — though necessary, for how else should we communicate? Here I must, therefore, refer back to the finger pointing at the moon: words can certainly be spiritual teachers but only as fingers pointing towards something. It is through metaphor and artistic expression that spiritual teachings best fulfill their mission.
These metaphors and teachings must however be interpreted. It is up to you to look for the moon rather than staring cluelessly at the finger. You are, in this, the only reliable spiritual teacher you may ever fully trust. The only person liable to interpret spiritual teachings in a way which is bound to provide any resonance of truth to you is yourself. The only spiritual truths worth possessing are those which you arrive at within. I’m not saying to completely ignore whatever anyone has to say about anything — only to to take it in, meditate on it, and see if it resonates with your deeper self before labeling it as reality. In this process, you'll be slowly and constructively defining your reality.
A genuine spiritual teacher or guru will never teach you anything. They can merely hope to use their words as a guide for your meditation — a gentle helping hand to get you back on your feet when you stumble, to challenge you and break down your conceptions of the world. But the stumbling is yours and yours alone to bear and is a necessary part of the spiritual path — which in every way isn’t supposed to be a free lunch.
Dogmas have no place in the spiritual realm, because dogmas are mental constructs. Spirituality is primarily a process of dissolving dogmas. It's the unlearning of those truths and beliefs we've been conditioned with and which only help in keeping us carefully trapped within the ego-prison that serves the social fabric above our individual needs — hence the expression spiritual liberation. If the pursuit of happiness is itself a belief created by society as a means of keeping us spiritually imprisoned, then spiritual liberation leads to something entirely different and far more rewarding.
Words can never convey the beauty of a tree; to understand it, you must see it with your own eyes.
Language cannot capture the melody of a song; to understand it, you must hear it with your own ears.
So it is with the Tao: the only way to understand it is to directly experience it.
The subtle truth of the universe is unsayable and unthinkable. Therefore the highest teachings are wordless.
My own words are not the medicine, but a prescription; not the destination, but a map to help you reach it.
When you get there, quiet your mind and close your mouth. Don't analyze the Tao. Strive instead to live it: silently, undividedly, with your whole harmonious being.
― Hua Hu Jing (ancient Taoist text)