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From The Way to Love by Anthony De Mello . . .
There is always someone to teach you things mechanical or scientific or mathematical like carpentry or algebra or chemistry, or intellectual things like literature or philosophy or athletic things like baseball or riding a bicycle or hi-tech things like operating a computer or a smart phone. But in the things that really matter, life, love, reality, God, no one can teach you a thing. All they can do is give you formulas. And as soon as you have a formula, you have reality filtered through the mind of someone else.
If you take those formulas you will be imprisoned. You will wither and when it comes to die, you will not have known what it means to see for yourself, to learn.
Look at it this way . . .
There have been moments in your life when you had an experience that you know you will have to carry with you to your grave because you are quite unable to find words with which to communicate the experience to any- one. As a matter of fact, there simply are no words in any human language to communicate exactly what you experienced.
Think of the kind of feeling that came upon you when you saw a bird fly over a lake or observed a blade of grass peeping out of a crack in the wall or heard the cry of a baby at night or sensed the loveliness of a naked human body or gazed at a corpse lying cold and rigid in a coffin.
You may try to communicate the experience in music or poetry or painting. But in your heart, you know that no one will ever comprehend exactly what it was you saw and sensed. This is something you are quite powerless to express, much less teach, to another human being.
That is exactly how a Master feels when you ask him to teach you about life or God or reality. All he can do is give you a formula, a set of words strung together into a formula. But of what use are those words?
Is there any way you can know that what you are in touch with is Reality? Here is one sign: What you perceive does not fit into any formula whether given by another or created by yourself. It simply cannot be put into words.
So, what can teachers do?
They can bring to your notice what is unreal, they cannot show you Reality; they can destroy your formulas, they cannot make you see what the formula is pointing to; they can indicate your error, they cannot put you in possession of the Truth.
They can, at the most, point in the direction of Reality, they cannot tell you what to see. You will have to walk out there all alone and discover for yourself.