Methods and Facts vs. Principles and Understanding

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few.
The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods.
The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

For years I taught the healing arts. Most people wanted step-one, step-two methods that could be memorized. I taught that memorizing techniques would not make them a good healer. The principles underlying those techniques is what is important. Once principles are understood, limitless techniques are easily created as needed.

This applies to all areas of life, from painting a picture, to dealing with our personal issues, to learning to dance. Looking to surface facts is just a starting point. Feeling and understanding what underlies the surface, grasping the principles, is what really matters. Facts are merely the gateway to what lies deeper. We must be willing to go deeper. If we stay on the surface, we never find fulfillment. To understand, is to feel into, is to have a deep feeling for, is to comprehend, is to become the wise, skilled artist, is to be free from the constraints that limit us.

Memorizing stories, chants, or facts does not make a person spiritual. Understanding the principles that underly those things is what really matters. And what lies deeper than understanding is the True Self, the Transcendent, Oneness, God. Understanding is the gateway between the surface and the depth. To understand principles is to have a deep feeling for the information, the knowledge. Feeling is the essence of understanding. But we are not talking about emotions when we say feeling. We are speaking of having a fine feeling for the matter at hand.

Without understanding, without comprehension of the underlying principles, deep spiritual knowledge is not under-stood. As such misunderstood information is passed down through the generations, the meaning is lost. Only the wise teacher can assist the student along the path of understanding, the path to the transcendent. Adi Shankara said the spiritual path is the path of discernment. This is true in all areas of life.

Look deeper to become the artist that creates a magnificent life.

Moon over the Blue Ridge Mountains

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.


  1. What a great blog and helpful reminder! In a world where all the attention is given to facts (or those disguised as such) and methods this blog feels like balm on the wound to me.

  2. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

  3. WOW, this is a very beautiful and very clear explanation.
    Thank you