An important point to remember is that whatever information we gather, we also filter, so what we’re left with is a very particular kind of understanding unique to ourselves. This understanding is not realization. It’s not even an experience. It is like a patch that will eventually fall off. It’s fine to be covered in patches of understanding because sooner or later they are bound to fall off so that experience can be revealed. However, we should also be aware that living with all these patches will prolong the time we spend on the path to enlightenment. How much time do we really have left in this lifetime? Twenty years? Thirty, if we’re lucky? Given that everything we have understood so far is nothing more than a patch that’s holding together our version of samsara, are any of us really willing to spend another ten years believing in that reality? We must, therefore, be prepared to peel off those patches.
But be aware that once the inner skin has been exposed, it’s possible to mistake it for the fruit, which is why we must always be ready to accept that it is just another skin. This is not a principle we apply only to hearing, contemplation, or reading; it’s even more relevant when we meditate. This is what is meant by the Tibetan saying “Experience is like a mist in the morning. It will evaporate.”