Welcome to the next in my popular series, “Youse are”!
This time, I’m having a go at the habit of reading too many Dhamma books.
Look, reading is good, and reading Dhamma books is good! No shame!
But you know, also balance and discernment. There are lots of bad Dhamma books out there, and lots that basically just say pretty much the same thing.
If you find an author you like, it’s great, it’s like you curl up with them and have a wise adviser speaking to you personally. Just remember, you don’t know them. Thousands, maybe millions of people curled up with The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and it turns out, the author Sogyal Rinpoche was an abusive monster. He’s not alone.
Use your discretion and discernment. Don’t just believe any old pap because it’s in a book, because it’s by a famous author, because it’s on some recommended reading list, because someone wrote an endorsement, because it has a nice cover, and most of, because it tells you what you want to hear.
Take care with your reading. Spiritual reading is slow. It’s reflective. It takes time to establish its roots. Read to learn new things, to deepen your understanding, to remind yourself of what matters. Don’t be afraid to read something hard.
If you find yourself reading and at the end of a book you ask yourself, “What was that all about?”, then maybe not next time. Beware the “sunk cost” fallacy: you’ll want to convince yourself that the book was valuable because you spent time on it.
It’s okay. Do some meditation. Read suttas, or listen to them. Spend some time in quiet. It’s okay to do nothing.
If you want to busy yourself, then spend less time consuming and more time creating. Write a poem, or an essay, or a story. Draw a picture. Learn a chant. Or else do more service, get out there and help others.
You learn much faster and more effectively when you do stuff yourself. Heck, maybe you’ll be the one who ends up writing the book that someone else will curl up with.