Reader comment on Jacob Needleman's passage ...

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    On Apr 12, 2011 Somik Raha wrote:

    This passage reminded me of a chat my wife and I had with a monk. We expressed a desire to meet with spiritual teachers and film Q&A with them so others can also benefit from it. The Dalai Lama came up, and this monk said, "The Dalai Lama says a lot of insightful things, but that is not what is really important about it. What is important is that he says it."

    In the spiritual and intellectual realms, two opposite standards apply. In the former, the purity of the individual and the presence is what connects and makes all else irrelevant. In the intellectual world, I remember the distinction my professor made between a regular bow and a crossbow. An opinion is like firing an arrow from a regular bow. The distance the arrow goes depends on the personality who shoots it. Whereas, an argument is like a crossbow. Even a child can fire it and it will go the same distance. An argument lives on beyond the personality. Is there any contradiction between these two?

    I don't think so. The same professor always had great presence when decimating my argument, and I never once felt humiliated. Rather, there was so much gratitude for the new clarity gained. Ironically (or not), I have noticed that those who develop spiritually also end up purifying their intellect of noise, and it is not surprising that many great spiritual teachers have also been great logicians.

    And then of course, there are the saints, in whose presence I forget my questions (or, to put it more accurately, my questions are rendered irrelevant). :)

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