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Where the Rubber Meets the Road

  • Elliott
  • April 25, 2012
  • 7

There is nothing I enjoy more than curling up with a good book. Add a little lightning, a rhythmic rainfall, and a couple of comfortable pillows and bliss is unavoidable.

I love to read. It is something I did not discover until I was in the Army at age 23. Throughout all the years of school, I had only seen reading as a necessary task; something which had to be done but certainly not anything I would ever want to do with my “free” time.

I became so enamored with reading, during that point in my life, I more or less withdrew from the usual routine, content to work and spend the rest of my time reading. I took a book with me to lunch and dinner. I even took one to work, to sneak in a few extra paragraphs whenever I could.

Eventually, I remembered that while getting lost in reading was fun, it was only another escape from life.

When I first discovered spiritual books, I once again sought to devour everything I could lay my hands on. I invested years of my life gaining knowledge.

I could quote Dyer, Chopra, Myss, and then I moved on to the mystics they quoted.

Finally, I read a book on Zen, (I do not remember which one) in which the Zen Master insisted that it was time to throw away all the books and simply “be”.

While I did not throw away my books, I understood what the master had meant. The reading is great fun. Acquiring the knowledge makes for lively conversation, but the rubber meets the road when I integrate what I have read into my day to day affairs.

We all know this is the truth.

Anyone who has been on a spiritual path for any length of time has probably read all that they would ever need to read about how to obtain peace, but alas, it is much easier to read than it is to apply the lessons.

I will always read, not out of necessity as I am sure I have enough wisdom to learn all that is mine without ever opening another book. I will always read because I love the process. I love feeling the words. I love agreeing or disagreeing with the author. I love feeling my heart flutter when I read something written “just for me”.

So, do not think I am advocating giving up reading (especially reading Secrets to Peace ;-) I am merely suggesting that we balance our read time with integration time. Our inner guidance is always willing to direct us on where to best invest our time.

Unfortunately, the best investment of our time is not always synonymous with the easiest.

I will close with this quote from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “Reading spiritual books is like reading the menu at a restaurant. Don’t forget you must eat the meal.”


  1. Interesting how things go. I have always been a compulsive reader. I preface many conversations with “I was just reading that…” It is how I relate to the world and how I make sense of my life. I’ve been studying A Course in Miracles for about 8 years now and while I don’t read it exclusively – I have counted on the teachings to guide my response to my life’s challenges and invitations.

    I’ve recently had health issues and subsequent depression…I tried to continue my readings, prayer, meditation…but got real resistant – I was rather angry with this whole human set up and the Source that created it/us. Part of my intuitive response to all I was going through/feeling was not to engage with anything or try to fix myself – I didn’t judge my anger, I released my guilt, I observed my destructive eating behaviors…and I gave it all to God, knowing I could not change this state of affairs on my own.

    Several days ago I began to feel the stirrings of what I recognized as hope. I nurtured the sparks to the best of my ability – hoping they would fan into a flame and I would be more how I feel I used to be – hopeful, positive, loving…. :-) I still couldn’t stomach my spiritual reading materials or my normal spiritual practices…I wasn’t consciously angry any more, just resistant – didn’t want to go back to the status quo.

    Anyway to the point of this response to your post…I receive several postings on ACIM on my Facebook account – sometimes I read them, sometimes I don’t. Just so happened that one caught my eye last week. The teacher was talking about how one should not become dependent on ACIM – if you do, he said, you are worshiping a book. The intent is to have the student internalize the thought system that leads to freedom. I really resonated with this and recalled that in the text of ACIM it says “Forget what you think you know about anything, forget this Course and go with empty hands to your God.” (paraphrased)…I realized a few things…that I was dependent on the “book” even after all these years of reading it, I don’t feel confident that I have totally internalized the lessons. I also, over time began to think I knew what they (the lessons) were saying…I lost some of what I had loved most about ACIM when I first started reading…how it mystically unfolded as I fully surrendered and let Spirit reveal the teachings to me. It was an awesome experience. That is the only way one can live the teachings of ACIM. Intellectual assessment alone is an empty practice. Once again I find myself humbled to a state of surrender. Right here and now, all is well. Of course I still pick up things to read – I am, as I said, a compulsive reader and much of my material is spiritual…but I’m not aggresively pursing specific knowledge or feeling particularly wise on Spiritual matters. I’m pretty much just feeling that Spirit is going to show me what I need to know and I am resting in that. Sorry to go on so long – thanks as always for sharing your thoughts and allowing me to share mine. Love, Eve

    1. Thank you Eve for sharing your insight and wisdom. Life is just so fascinating, especially when we just surrender and stop resisting.

  2. Hi elliott! This is a great post! There are so many ways we “escape” from balanced engagement with life – reading, working, video game playing, conputers, cell phones…its that DOing….its distraction from being present to both inner and outer self/reality. Even with spiritual books, too much indulgence takes us out of presence rather than bringing us into presence. Presence is really a delicate balance of inner and outer relationships, of inner and outer self-giving and self awareness. Contemplation AND action. Being AND Doing…living fully in both realities…for the greatest benefit of self and others. I am so glad you are writing your secrets again! Nmaste! Peggy

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts here Peggy. I am most grateful for friends who are exploring what it means to be fully human and fully spiritual at the same time.

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