Anybody with a lick of sense tries to inform himself of the particulars of a chosen endeavor. If you want to succeed, it pays to study the terrain and the aspects as described by others. Politicians bone up on politics, doctors bone up on medicine, car mechanics bone up on engines and axles, academics bone up on their particular discipline, and the spiritually curious bone up on texts and teachings. No sense in being any stupider than you have to be.
But one of the facets of such accumulations of information is the willingness to become mired in those accumulations ... as if such accumulations were a destination instead of a road. Deeper and deeper and deeper into the endless intellectual and emotional understandings ... as if, were I to accumulate just one more bit of information, the discipline or dream might be realized. More and more and more and more... it's like an addiction. No one can eat just one potato chip, right?
The social implications and critiques of this observation don't interest me so much. What interests me is the willingness of individuals to cloak themselves in this way, never quite daring to ask and answer the question, "what for?"
The pianist who studies scores and descriptive techniques must eventually (unless he's hopelessly mired) put his fingers on the keys. The doctor must eventually employ the scalpel. The car mechanic must eventually lift the hood. The academic must eventually try to transmit. And the spiritually-curious must eventually (unless they are hopelessly mired) ask and answer: "What for?"
No one else can answer such a question any more than anyone else can play the piano for you. It simply doesn't work.
It takes courage and patience and doubt to ask and answer, "What for?" It requires a willingness to set aside all of the wonderful accumulations, all of the wonderful prep work ... and just vow to find out. It's not that the accumulations are useless or stupid. They point the way. But there is a difference between talking about walking and walking itself, between believing and knowing.
What for ... God.
What for ... enlightenment.
What for ... peace.
What for ... suffering.
What for ... heaven.
What for ... hell.
What for ... spiritual endeavor.
What for ... kindness.
What for ... emptiness.
Cut the crap! Really -- what for?