Sometimes we read an account of something amazing, something that intrigues and inspires us. Like, for example, we might read about a hike to the top of an amazing mountain. You may read about all the beautiful trees, the cool clear water rushing in a stream, boulders strewn all over the mountain-side…..the hiker stops, and just listens and hears nothing but wilderness….birds, small scuttling of mice in the undergrowth, wind softly bringing ocean moisture and the sound of the persons own breathe…. merging and becoming a part of that wilderness, not merely an outside observer…..
This may get our backsides motivated and go find that mountain and hike that path! When we do, we might realize that the words we read had lied! The experience is even better… so much so it is beyond words! We are in awe, and feel at home.
However, the reading of the account may make us feel that we have obtained the information, the experience and therefore actually going to the mountain isn’t needed. Just a waste of time because we could start reading another account of something amazing.
It reminds me of something a Geology Professor at one of my previous University’s once told me…. He thought that there was no need to go into the field to look at rocks…. they could be collected by grad students and analyzed back in the lab. He didn’t go into the field for many years and then one day he happened to find himself back outside teaching some students and was amazed! He forgotten how important it was to study the rocks in-situ, in their natural home and their contextual relationship with the land around them.
Hui-neng, the 6th Patriarch smacked the Sutras with a stick, or something like that.
We need to smack our brains with a stick every now and then and stop understanding and start realizing.