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Reading a Text for Insight: 1 st Stage. The following are rules of thumb for reading any text (i.e., a sentence, passage, book, collection, etc.), especially any text considered important. They apply to sacred texts, too, but to other texts as well. Read the text.

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reading a text for insight 1 st stage
Reading a Text for Insight: 1st Stage

The following are rules of thumb for reading any text (i.e., a sentence, passage, book, collection, etc.), especially any text considered important. They apply to sacred texts, too, but to other texts as well.

  • Read the text.
  • Reflect (prayerfully or otherwise) on what you’ve read for a while.
  • Pay attention to whatever comes to mind from your reading and reflection.
  • Pay attention to any prior expectations you may have about the meaning of this text, and open them to whatever the text seems to say this time.
reading a text for insight 2 nd stage
Reading a Text for Insight: 2nd Stage
  • Now read the text again.
  • Pay attention to what might have appealed to you.
  • Pay attention to what might have surprised, puzzled or bothered you.
  • Be honest about what you find, even if you don’t know how to put it all together.
  • Discuss what you’re beginning to see with others, and listen to what they are beginning to see.
reading a text for insight 3 rd stage
Reading a Text for Insight: 3rd Stage
  • Now read the text again.
  • Pay attention to its setting as part of a larger text or collection of texts.
  • Imagine what the original setting for this text might have been.
  • Imagine how it might have been received by different people at different times.
  • Explore how different settings might affect how you read this text.
  • Discuss what you’re beginning to see with others, and listen to what they are beginning to see.
reading a text for insight 4 th stage
Reading a Text for Insight: 4th Stage
  • Now read the text again.
  • Pay attention to any new insights (sometimes they are old insights renewed).
  • Start consulting what other reputed experts have said about this text, its original and later settings, etc.
  • (It’s OK if you already knew a bit about this beforehand, but don’t focus on any of this before you’ve gotten to this stage.)
  • How does this affect your reading?
  • Discuss what you’re beginning to see with others, and listen to what they are beginning to see.
reading a text for insight final reminders
Reading a Text for Insight: Final Reminders

Personal: At every stage, keep asking yourself how “the world of the text” intersects with your world:

  • What assumptions about reality do you bring to your reading?
  • Are there other viable (to you) assumptions that would make a difference?
  • How, if at all, does reading this text affect how you might live, and how you might view your life and the lives of others?
  • Does it challenge your assumptions about reality, or does it confirm them?

With Others: When differences arise, see if they can be reconciled; if not, try these options:

  • Maybe the meaning of the text is too engaging for just one approach.
  • Maybe some people are just honestly mistaken (could I be one of them?).
  • Maybe some people are not fully honest (could I be one of them?).

Repeat these stages as often as seems helpful.

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