All practices, philosophies and teachings provide not the truth but a context for seeking. There are countless ways, schools, teachers and methods. Ordinary mind compares them, higher mind abandons them, realised beings exemplify them.
Looking from the perspective that many of us begin, we are consumers. While many seekers abhor the materialist all consuming modern world, how many of us stop and see that there is as much consumerism in the spiritual as there is in the material. Reading this site, this paragraph, in this moment the reader might be poised with the question ‘what’s in it for me?’ Rightly so. Even the spiritual consumer must discern before action.
What is truly useful? What is going to make the difference you seek? There is little doubt, as we begin the search, the searcher still harbours some desire for ‘self’ to be satisfied. Every drop of seeking self satisfaction can be examined and might reveal the truth of me and I: i may have heard that there is no inherent self, but hey, you never know…..
The good news is, it’s not a problem, yet it may remain an obstacle unless we are alerted to this grasping. In the moment you seek, accept there is a part that desires, that still grasps. Feel it. Let it go, or better still hit it constantly with ‘there is no inherent self’. Don’t expect any result immediately. The Buddha taught the absence of anything including consciousness that might constitute an ‘I’ or ‘self’. It’s not enough to have heard the teaching or to accept it. It needs to be worked and applied.
Hence, all the different paths. One says do it this way, another says try that way. How do you find what is truly useful for you, in the condition you are in, in the life circumstances you are in? Is there an element of trial and error? Do we have to encounter wrong turns?
All the formulae that exist in all the teachings, all the different methods and paths, they are propositions. Each proposition may propose an antidote, a remedy, a discipline, an ethic, limitless propositions, all designed to help individuals find happiness, or realise Truth. Over time, as conditions have changed, the propositions have adapted. The basic teaching does not change, the truth does not change, but how this is pointed out adapts.