What does it mean when a spiritual teacher says not to mistake the finger, pointing at the moon, for the moon itself?
What it means is that, the ‘seeker’ is seeking ‘enlightenment’ – both of which are just projections of the mind. The mind is bound by words, concepts and ideas. It is the knowing faculty. The intellect. The conditioned. When it hears about enlightenment, it approaches it just as it approaches everything else – as a concept.
Whatever a teacher says is likewise taken in and interpreted as a concept. But it is not, and cannot be a concept. It cannot be bound by any manner of conceptual notion – for it is unbound, unborn, and prior to all concepts; including the concept of itself.
This habit of the mind, to conceptualize everything it encounters, is why the master warns the student that it is not of the mind, or for the mind. It is not about the finger – or the teaching; for the teaching is but a pointing – and what it is pointing at cannot be quantified, qualified, or explained… it simply *is*; and can only be understood through direct experience.
Anything less is like trying to describe the color blue to a man who has been blind since birth.