"Tis the good reader that makes the good book; in every book he finds passages which seem to be confidences or sides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant for his ear; the profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader; the profound thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until it is discovered by an equal mind and heart." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I love Emerson's insights; I marvel at how he causes me to pause, look within and think about things that might otherwise sneak right past me in the course of a day. To consider that I am equal in mind and heart to some of the profound teachers throughout history, as well as contemporary teachers I may read or even listen to, is a compelling thought. There are times when reading a book I get the feeling that the author is speaking directly to me and is reminding me of some deeply buried nugget of truth that already lies within me. It's as if their words awaken within me the same knowing and I say to myself, "Of course, I already knew that." It's not necessarily a transmission of knowledge as much as it is a lightening bolt of remembrance or self-knowing.
Often, after delivering a talk, people will approach me and say, "You must have been reading my mind; that talk was just for me -- I heard exactly what I needed to hear." I will smile and respond, "No, actually it was just for me because it is what I needed to hear right now -- you just happened to be present, listening in on the conversation I was having with myself; if you have found relevance with what was said it's because you walked in here with the ideas already living within you -- I just helped you remember and recognize them."
The reason I point this out is that the same is true for you, whether you know it or not: When you read (or hear) something that finds deep resonance with your soul it's not because you are receiving anything new; you are remembering something that you already know at some level. How can this be so? To quote master teacher Emerson one more time: "There is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all of the same... What Plato has thought, he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel... Who hath access to this universal mind is a party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only and sovereign agent." To put it in the language of metaphor, we are all swimming in the same "pool" of infinite intelligence, sharing, what Emerson refers to as one universal mind. What is known at one point of the pool can be known at any point in the pool -- it just requires an opening in consciousness to be revealed. That opening happens when we read or hear something that hooks our attention; it is then that the knowing (or remembering) floods in and we get that familiar ah-ha feeling.
Give this some thought the next time you crack a book and read something that rings the inner bell that vibrates down to the core of your self-knowing. When you read my words or any writer's words that find a home in your heart, know that you are not being told anything you don't already know; you are being reminded of how much you know that you didn't remember you already knew. You are also being reminded of how amazingly connected you are to something far greater than you ever imagined, which, in turn, connects you directly with the source of your inspiration; the universal mind with which you are one. The practice is to remember, as Emerson stated, the profound thought or passion sleeps... until it is discovered by an equal mind and heart.
To consider that your mind and heart are equal to that of Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Spinoza, Voltaire, Nietzsche, Pythagorus, Shakespeare, Thoreau, Plato, Socrates, Rumi, Emerson, Hopkins, Browning, Holmes, Fillmore, Eddy, Gibran, Tolle, Dyer, Chopra, Oprah or (fill in the blank) _____________, puts you in very good company, and that indeed is a worthy and profound bit of wisdom to contemplate. Of course, you already knew that.
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