Strange links. Weird intersections. Patterns in world lines.
Alright, so when I was a teenager, I decided to read all the major holy books. I really wanted to know what life was about.
My effort was a scattered, slapshot affair, like all such blind ambitions. I didn’t read anything about the holy books. I just read them, bouncing around from part to part and coming to my own conclusions. This is NOT the way to read holy books. Anyone who tells you that it is the way to read holy books has probably not read any holy books. You need historical and philosophical context to make sense of the great works of spirituality and religion. They sound largely like meandering, chaotic gibberish otherwise.
Still, I must say that my haphazard reading did bear some interesting takeaways that I might not have otherwise gleaned if I’d gone into it properly prepared. One of those came from the New Testament of the Bible (Matthew 7:15–20):
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
In that passage, JC was warning specifically against false prophets. In my young mind, I took it as a sort of universal life maxim. I used it as a litmus test for every person who came to me claiming they knew how to be happy or how to change the world or how to improve themselves.
Rather than listen to their words, I would look at the person’s fruits.
Does this person offering life advice actually look happy and fulfilled, I’d ask myself?
Is this health guru healthy and vibrant?
Does this political pundit, whether amateur or pro, seem embodied with the unity and happiness they promise their…