Ten guidelines for the reading of sacred texts

  1. Remember that they are human in origin.
  2. Remember that ultimately nothing is human in origin.
  3. Don’t too quickly play the “fallibility card.” It might be your own fallibility that is causing the discomfort, rather than the text’s.
  4. Don’t too quickly try to resolve the question of who is right or wrong. Welcome the tension of not knowing. Allow entire passages to remain a mystery to you.
  5. Extend reverence and an open ear to the text. Assume there is something for you to learn. Be innocent. Have a beginner’s mind. “Become like little children.”
  6. Take the stance that you are not there to resolve the text; the text is there to resolve you.
  7. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Wisdom at earlier stages of development is still wisdom. Don’t let the author’s flaws blind you from seeing the truth in their words.
  8. True words are words that convey the truth; they are not themselves the truth. For that reason, allow the words to speak to your heart and not merely get stuck in your mind.
  9. Allow a lack of understanding to remain indefinitely. Open your mind not only so that you may receive new understanding, but also so that you may practice keeping it open even when no understanding is forthcoming. Allow this frustrating tension to chip away at your habit of needing to be in control.
  10. At the same time, devote yourself to understanding whatever you possibly can, so that you can take responsibility for the truth you have seen, putting it into practice.