Choosing A Right Path
In general, there are two kinds of teachings out there:
Traditional approaches: They are often mixed with unnecessary mambo jumbo, customs, rituals, cultural baggage and even harmful elements.
Modern approaches: They are often diluted without deeper essence.
Unfortunately finding a right teaching/teacher can be challenging. It is part of the journey to search and try few things before finding a suitable right path. But some people may be constantly jumping around and doing everything (addicted to spiritual shopping) or simply stuck in one thing before exploring properly.
Finding a right path
Direct path without unnecessary diversion and baggage: Our main problem is that we severely lack potent mental energy. Adding anything unnecessary is dissipation of energy. Buddha: Development of mindfulness is the direct path to enlightenment, freedom from suffering.
Good in the beginning, good in the middle and good in the end: Every step on the path should be good, beneficial and fruitful, not just at the end.
Clear understanding of human suffering and offering a proper solution for it: It should address the full and accurate picture of the range of human suffering, and give deep and penetrating analysis of the root causes giving rise to suffering, not just symptoms. So it can offer a right path (methods, practices, discipline and wisdom) that can remove suffering at its source.
Likewise it should address the full range of human happiness and offer proper methods to cultivate it.
Our ego is in the middle
Our main problem with choosing a right path is our own ego — our existing beliefs, biases and neuroses. We tend to stuck in the same old pattern. We end-up choosing a path and practicing from the same old place of our original root causes of our neuroses.
Most people are fooled by the superficial appearances of elaborate customs and rituals. Holy words are just spiritual entertainment. If we are not willing to touch our life directly and listen to it, we cannot learn anything. If we are not truly practicing it nothing will change. Will a sick man be benefited merely by reading the medical texts?
Lot of people approach meditation as usual with their egoistic approach; so they practice it with brute force. But it should be natural, gentle and graceful. It should be based on wisdom-power, not will-power. This is about making our life simple, graceful and happy, not difficult and harder.
Simple but very subtle
Mindfulness/meditation techniques and concepts are not really that complicated, but very subtle. They are simple, but not easy. They can be understood at a superficial level or a deeper level. Just go on accumulating knowledge superficially without proper preparation and practice is not only useless, it becomes a major hindrance. Mindfulness is experiential, a way of being, not a philosophy.
For a proper development and growth, one needs to prepare the ground, dig holes, plant right seeds, nurture and guard them properly. One needs to cultivate right tools and develop right skills towards a skillful development. Just keep trying foolishly is not only useless, it can be harmful. A good teacher would guide through it properly.
We have two different kinds of memory systems. One is explicit memory that we are aware of it explicitly (such as names, places, events, concepts...) and another is implicit memory that we are not aware of it explicitly (such as contexts, internal states, performing tasks...). Though we are not aware of it explicitly, our implicit memory defines our deeper well-being. Books can offer explicit memory, but a direct relationship with a teacher is vital for implicit memory.
If you have any questions or need any clarification, please don't hesitate to contact me. All the best!