Most of us, at least in the beginning, do not always appreciate the difference between form and spirit in practice. For instance, our initial interest in meditation may well have been inspired by hearing that it could help us become more peaceful and help increase understanding.
However, if we are not careful about how we engage with the forms and techniques used in developing meditation, we can just end up becoming more self-critical: ‘my concentration is not good enough; I don’t really feel gratitude to my parents; I don’t put as much effort into practice as I should… ‘.
We forgot that the point or the spirit of the practice is increased well-being and contentment, and instead focus too much on becoming successful in developing the form, in this case the meditation technique.
This principle applies to the way we relate to all the conventions within Buddhism, including Buddha images, scriptures and the monastic way of life.
This reflection by Ajahn Munindo is from the book, Servant of Reality, (pdf) p.5.