For thousands of years humans have been creating structures around spiritual rituals promising the key to the doorway to consciousness or God. For as long as we can remember humans have been searching for higher states of awareness and intimate connection to the divine. The gospels and tenets of the great world religions and spiritual traditions have being showing us the way. However, they are but fingers pointing to the same moon.
Religious doctrine teaches humans how to get along and love each other by showing us how others have walked the path. They tell the stories of how enlightened beings connected to their source of inspiration or form of God. What the Zen saying is suggesting, however, is that we spend much of our lives with our gaze fixed upon the pointer and that few of us ever see beyond it. We have been conditioned to believe in the experience of others above our own. We revel in their glory; study their journeys and the mountains they have climbed.
Of course it is extremely helpful to explore what others have experienced but don’t get lost in someone else’s awakening while forsaking your own. Do not mistake the pointing finger for the moon, the Zen masters remind us. This goes right to heart of why I teach yoga—to help you trust in your own experience of life—to support you in looking beyond everything external and to set your own gaze, not on the pointers, but beyond them, exactly and precisely on the moon itself.