In spiritual persuasions there are the "teachings."
Intellectually, these teachings detail the parameters of the persuasion, depict the goal, and outline the means to attain that goal. As the level of credulity surrounding these teachings rises, so too can a willingness to set them in stone ... leading to such things as sharia law or the carrot-and-stick promises and threats ... my-way-or-the-highway or if-you-don't-see-it-my-way-you're-going-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket.
Intellectually, the teachings shape the scene, call forth belief, require action and offer peace of one kind or another. All this can be useful. It can inspire belief and hope and, occasionally, some serious effort.
But eventually the question has to arise, what is not the teaching? While it's all well and good if a gazillion people believe in or applaud the 'authentic' teachings, still the matter of inauthenticity whispers its insistent questions.
Such good questions.
Once, when I asked him who the teacher was, my teacher, Kyudo Nakagawa Roshi, replied, "Except for me, everything is the teacher." The intellectually-quick-witted or belief-stricken may find this observation delicious and credible ... a good teaching.
And it is.
But talk is cheap.