The mind naturally has priorities of this over that. Sometimes our priorities are made by conscious choice, but often one goal has precedence over the other by means of unconscious happenstance. In our journey of Yoga and Meditation we may look for one or more of these "T's," with one generally being dominant over the others:
Truth: This is the highest to seek. If we seek Truth, cultivating that flame of desire to burn ever more brightly in the inner chamber of the heart, then all of the other "T's" will come along in time, as a natural process. The ideal Teacher will show up, and we will find the right Texts for us. We will find Teachings through classes or other learning experiences, and specific Training in methods. All of these will come, as if by magnetic pull, by clearly focusing on the highest priority of seeking Truth. That burning desire gradually burns up other, less useful desires.
Teacher: It is easy to fall into the trap of putting first priority on finding a Teacher. There are many so-called Teachers available who will quickly enter into a master-servant relationship. The photo can be put on an altar, and the Teacher worshipped, while little may happen in true advancement. It has been widely said that when the student is ready, the Teacher will appear. For one who most sincerely puts the seeking of Truth number one, Teacher or Teachers will most definitely come to help show the way. (See Guru article)
Tradition: To have a well known tradition or group with which to identify can be very comforting to the mind, providing both a sense of personal stability and a feeling of being in community with others. However, in the absence of a deeper, stronger longing and conviction for Truth itself, the Tradition may be, in effect, little more than joining a social organization. For the sincere seeker who puts the desire for Truth first and foremost, an authentic Tradition will come, along with a proper Teacher from that Tradition.
Teachings: There is no end to the classes, seminars, or lectures one might attend so as to get more Teachings, more information. It is easy to sit around with other people of so-called like mind, or to debate endlessly on internet discussion forums, and completely miss the direct experience of Truth. The Teachings are essential on the journey, but must be done in the context of the intense clarity of conviction for Truth. That inner drive for nothing less than absolute Truth, constantly cultivated, brings life and meaning to the Teachings.
Training: Hands on, direct training in the specific methods is an important thing, but often is done without a deep drive for Truth itself. One may do exercises, for example, that make the body flexible, enliven energy, or concentrate the mind, without knowing what to do with their effects, without understanding their real nature, and without comprehending their significance in relation to the realization of Truth. Methods that build upon the prerequisite longing and focus on seeking of Truth are of far greater value than that of mere physiological benefits.
Texts: There are
thousands upon thousands of books, with more and more being written and
published every year. One can read and read and read some more, gaining
a greater and greater ability to intellectually describe or argue the
principles. A library of tens of thousands of books is of little value
without the higher priority of Truth. With the fire of desire for Truth,
the Texts are useful, but there is also an inner longing to distill
their wisdom, to set those books aside, and dive deep into the inner
experience of Truth itself.
Choosing Truth: By choosing to focus on the highest "T," all of the others fall into place. It surely takes effort, but all of the others rest on the firm, unwavering, intense, and clear first priority of seeking Truth itself. If one has a lesser goal, one of the other "T's," there may be a temporary feeling of satisfaction from having attained what is wanted. If a Teacher is there, then that desire is fulfilled. If Teachings are found, there is satisfaction. If Training is received, there is confidence. When Texts are read, there is a contentment of sorts. Each of these can, standing alone, lead to a sense of pseudo peace, even though they fall far short of Truth.
However, for one who deeply longs for Truth alone, there remains a nagging sense of being incomplete until that Realization comes. This takes great strength, the strength of sankalpa or determination. To hold onto the desire for Truth, and to allow that one desire to become ever stronger naturally brings the others along. This is not to suggest that suffering and pain are sought for their own sake. The single-minded desire for Truth, by whatever other name one may call it, stands alone as the prime desire, goal, and experience of the human. One who feels that drive as number one on the list of desires, or things to do, is most fortunate, and will eventually find that Truth.