The single most fundamental, sweeping and powerful truth in all spiritual study, contemplation and practice was probably best summed up in a single sentence. It is an aphorism that has been popularly attributed to the Buddha:
You are what you think.
The Bible (Proverbs) succinctly echoes the same idea:
For as he thinketh in his heart, so he is.
This concept is the common denominator upon which virtually every workable religious and spiritual philosophy throughout the ages can be reduced to. It is the truth that religion and spiritual practice of all denominations and creeds has capitalized on in one form or another. When it is appreciated one becomes the master of his own destiny. One is no longer the groveling effect of circumstances outside of his or her own control. One is no longer the victim of external conditions.
Its realization can explain popular notions of attainment of nirvana, enlightenment, the kingdom of God, or as countless popular psychology/philosophy sects since the late nineteenth century have put it, self-realization. One reaches nirvana when one recognizes it resides within. One attains enlightenment when one sees that it is all about how one thinks. One enters into the Kingdom of God when one recognizes that realm is within one’s own heart. One is self-realized when one realizes that one is what one thinks.
Being creatures who use the via of language to conceptualize, communicate and understand, all of us require some degree or level of explanation to appreciate the power that comes with realizing the simplicity that ‘you are what you think.’ Or, some exercises that help us transcend language based associative, identification thought habits in order to perceive the truth of it. Thus, paths and mythology and related attention-focusing practices fueled by glimpses of this truth have abounded. Countless explications and related practices exist to bring us to the point of recognition of the seeming magic that comes with the simple truth that you are what you think.
So powerful is the recognition of this most fundamental truth that the attempted monopolization of it has made inestimable riches for priests, ecclesiastics and gurus of every stripe. Close inspection of any one of these proprietary routes (irrespective of the ornateness of its projected piety) invariably exposes a common fault.
The fault is fatal to the accomplishment of the truth each of the routes purports to lead to. It is incident to the attempted monopolization of the truth.
The fault invariably comes with attempted proprietorship of the truth.
The fault is that deference to the proprietor and his creations (priests, practitioners, institutions, practices, rituals, beliefs) – whether overtly required or not – ceases or prohibits attainment or realization of the truth the proprietor capitalizes on.
Once one is led to believe that the realization’s continued operation depends on some relationship external to self, the truth no longer obtains.
Virtually any practice or ism that overtly or covertly requires continued membership, obligation, participation, or belief becomes anathema to truth and all of the salutary effects that spring from it.