One of the reminders teachers of just about any subject give is to not be satisfied with the menu alone, and not to try to eat it either. Looking at the menu does not give the nourishment of the meal, and eating the menu is also not quite the same.
The menu is the theory, and the meal is when what the theory points to is a living reality.
Reading the menu is listening to it, taking it in, even being exited about it or believing in it. Trying to eat it, is the wrestling with the theory, the exploration of it, trying to make sense of it.
Both are fine, and even an essential part of the process.
As we start out on the path of discovering who (as individual) and what (as spirit) we are, we already have lots of beliefs from our family, culture, society and our own individual experiences. All of these beliefs, from seeing ourselves as a thing in a world of things to believing that our kids should pick up their socks, defines what is true and good and what is not, splits life in general, and our own life in particular, down the middle, often creating stress and even suffering.
Modifying our beleifs
So when we read and try to eat the menu, we are modifying our original beliefs in ways that have several effects. Hopefully, it relieves some of the stress which becomes an encouragement to continue the exploration. It can serve as a map for our continued exploration. And it can be a pointer to something beyond itself, allowing us to find it for ourselves.
As we have glimpses of what the words point to, these too inevitable become memories and beliefs, which is another menu, and another phase of the process. As with the initial menu, this one encourages us to continue, provides a map, and points to a living reality beyond itself.
Discovering what is beyond the beliefs
Eventually, as we become more and more familiar with the terrain itself, the map goes from being primary, in the foreground, a way to orient and navigate, and something to believe in, to being secondary, in the background, derived from our immediate experience, and just a relative truth, one of many ways to talk about it.
One of the many areas where I find this for myself is with The Work. Initially, it was a nice map which fitted my own experiences and previous maps. Then, as a explored it in my own life, I gradually became more and more familiar with the terrain itself, and this in turn fed back into the map.
It is a continuing process. Sometimes, the map is more in the foreground. I may be caught up in a belief, and the map tells me it is only a belief, which helps a little but not that much. Other times, the living reality of it is more in the foreground, on its own. And other times again, when I actively engage in the process, I may start out with the map, the theoretical understanding that it is only a belief and that reality (and peace) is on the other side of it, and this becomes a living reality as I go through the steps.