Why don’t spiritual traditions use more direct pointing?

Why don’t most spiritual traditions use direct pointing similar to the Headless experiments or the Big Mind process? Is it because they didn’t figure it out?

It probably varies with the tradition. The theistic ones may not do it because it doesn’t fit so cleanly with their theology. And the non-theistic and more non-dual ones may not do it for another reason that makes as much or more sense.

These traditions typically start people off with preliminary practices. These practices reorganize and realign us at a human level, and they mimic living from and embodying an awakening. When people are ready, there may be a direct pointing that helps people notice what they are, or the teacher wait until the student have a more spontaneous noticing. And then there is an emphasis on continued noticing and embodiment, bringing it into daily life.

Why do they do it this way?

It may be because they, through experience, find that the embodiment side of it is what’s practically most important and what takes the most time. Noticing what we are takes very little time, if we are guided to it. Living from it takes a whole life, and many lifetimes if we have many lifetimes to work with.

The other side of this is that if some are shown and notice what they are too soon in the process, they may not take it seriously, or they may think they got it and nothing more is needed. Both of which are a bit misguided.

Also, if someone doesn’t get it, for whatever reason, they’ll at least have the benefits from the preliminary and other ongoing practices.

I know that in Dzogchen, they have direct pointing but don’t use it until people have done the preliminary practices and are ready for it. Possibly for these reasons.

Is it misguided to go directly to helping people notice what they are?

No. It’s just helpful to also point out that noticing what we are takes very little time, and exploring how to live from it takes infinite time. It’s something we are never done with, at least not until we die and are not here anymore.

One thought to “Why don’t spiritual traditions use more direct pointing?”

  1. Exactly. I think that’s why meditation – in some traditions – is said to be “purifying”, which is kind of loaded word in Christian cultures… but essentially refers to what you are referring to here…

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