Confusing the symbol for the object
Our egos try to convince us of the viability of some interesting notions. One such fanciful idea is that being a spectator is equivalent to being a participant. The entire pro sports industry depends on this suspension of reality. The popularity of action/adventure movies and the proliferation of pornography is testament to the modern world's addiction to symbolism. The substitution of political propaganda for "news" has wreaked havoc on representative democracy, which depends upon an informed citizenry to elect its leaders.
In the retail world this is called "bait-and-switch." We have been sold the cross the savior was executed on as a substitute for the savior himself. To some, the flag means more than the people that inhabit the country it stands for.
Thich Nhat Hanh quotes the Buddha: "A thinking person makes use of the finger to see the moon. A person who only looks at the finger and mistakes it for the moon will never see the real moon."*
Our over-reliance upon both written and spoken language can tie us up in knots of inaction and hesitation. We err on the side of caution even when the path forward is clear. We think we need time to work out the pros and cons of any situation, ignoring our finer intuition, allowing ourselves to be shamed into erroneous behavior. We ignore the facts of our senses and persist in the "idea" that seems most acceptable to our families, our peers, and our authority figures.
Meditation allows us a clear path through this confusing thicket. We settle down to our least excited state of consciousness. We do this regularly for twenty minutes, twice a day. As a result of regular and devoted practice, we slowly become more attuned to the fine level of feeling that leads us in the correct direction.
We bypass all the confusing symbols and begin to trust real experience.
*Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha by Thich Nhat Hanh.
f you know someone who would benefit from learning our meditative practice, we hold regular intro talks here in Studio City, CA. The next one is Wednesday evening at 7pm, free of charge. Click here to rsvp: