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Letters from an Ancient Mind

My dear young friend,

It would seem to me that you have been taught how to read without having been taught how to read.

That is not a contradiction. You have been taught the steps of reading a manuscript, but not the steps of how to read a manuscript. These are two entirely different things. So when you complain that reading the Scripture is a boredom to you, it tells me instantly that you are not properly taught.

Any fool can be taught to read. It is a child’s skill. But reading in which one truly perceives – that is much more difficult. Each work must be approached in the proper way if you are truly to understand it. For example, should you desire to cook a boar by recipe, you must know your spices before you read the recipe.

So it is with the Holy Writ. There are three most necessary conditions to reading the Scripture.

The first of these is humility. As God has permitted his own words to be captured for your benefit, you may not survey them with a lordly air. Understand first that the author is above you; he condescends to you as your Lord. If you will not approach his words with humility, how shall you learn? Indeed, will not your pride prevent your wisdom?

The next of these is simplicity. So many seek some hidden meaning in the Scripture! But is it not the case that the Scriptures are full of plain speech? Are these not the words intended for the race of man, not the race of angels? Only the divine author could write so deeply yet so simply. Therefore, we must read with simplicity, not seeking to upset its meaning but to comprehend it.
Finally, we must read with faith. All things written are for our profit. God is economical with words. Therefore we must see all things written through the eyes of faith. If we will not, then the hardened heart of the cynic will soon grow within us.

You read but you do not understand; you listen but you do not hear. Did not Isaiah the Prophet speak of this? Let go of your desire for hidden meaning and read with humility, simplicity and faith. Then your understanding will grow, and your heart will be nourished with true food.

As ever,

Isaac the alchemist

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