The search for wisdom and truth, I’ve found, goes through three stages.
The first stage is the stage of externals.
Here you’re preoccupied with appearances, with how things look rather than what they are.
This is the stage of rules and rituals, of formulas, and magical incantations. As long as you perform all these externals well, you feel you’ll be okay.
In religion, it’s mostly about following strict rules religiously. (Now you know where the word ‘religion’ comes from.)
And condemning all others who don’t share the same blind adherence to these rules as you.
But the preoccupation with appearance is not just a religious phenomenon.
You find it everywhere, including the rarefied world of guitar playing
Where many self-professed experts will try to convince you that they have the keys to guitar heaven and they will try to impose their rigid rules on ‘correct’ guitar playing on you.
The modus operandi is the same.
If you follow their rules, you’re ‘saved.’
If you don’t, you’re an infidel, to be cast into their guitar hell.
This stage is ruled by fear and ignorance.
Fear because the punishment for non-compliance can be brutal.
And ignorance because to maintain their hold on you, these self-appointed guardians of ‘truth’ will keep you in darkness and ignorance.
Because they know that if you ever find the truth, their little racket is over.
The second stage is the stage of internals.
This is the stage of experience.
With experience, you begin to understand that there are more than externals.
There’re internals in everything and if the externals do not reflect the internals, it’s all a sham.
At this stage, you begin to see though all the hype, all the hypocrisy.
You start to question.
And you begin to realize that behind all the smiles and rituals and rules, there’s something a little less wholesome.
And that the glossy externals are really a cover for incompetence at best and more sinister intentions at worst.
If you’re a guitar player, you realize that it doesn’t really matter how you look, more important is what’s coming out from your fingers.
If you look the model picture of the ‘perfect’ player but you sound like crap, well, time to focus on your internals.
Or if you see pastors spewing their Sunday fire and brimstone driving their fancy cars and cavorting with their glamorous sidekicks, well time to check out their internals.
In other words, you begin to focus on the real as opposed to the phony.
The substance as opposed to the superficial.
And the third stage?
Well, this stage is beyond words, it’s beyond explanations.
You’ll have to experience it to know it.
All I can say is that once you experience it, everything else will be of little consequence.