There is a famous story of karate master Budoken, who had a disciple who infamously walked by a horse that suddenly became skittish and kicked out – but the disciple deftly turned and leapt to avoid injury. The townspeople all judged him as very clever and said he deserved to be Budoken’s top disciple. When Budoken though heard of the incident, he instantly expelled him from his karate school.
The townspeople where shocked, and didn’t agree with Budoken, so set up a situation where a skittish horse was tied up on the path on which Budoken walked daily. They watched him secretly from the bushes, and upon nearing the horse, he gave the horse a huge berth and crossed the road to avoid it entirely. The townspeople confessed their ruse, and Budoken replied, “A person with a mental attitude that allows himself to walk carelessly by a horse without considering that it may rear up is a lost cause no matter how much he studies technique. I thought he was a person of better judgement, but I was mistaken”. It’s a great story to exercise any kind of study of the self, any kind of betterment, be it yoga, self empowerment, meditation, therapy, or martial arts is useless unless it is brought into action. No amount of study, and absorption of knowledge and technique is of help, if we don’t integrate it into our daily lives.
I recently heard a Buddhist monk living not in a monastery, but in the world, say that they thought Buddhist scholars that were at Universities becoming professors of Buddhism slightly mad. He reasoned, why study the recipe, when you can sit down and eat the meal? It’s a sentiment I have heard many times from various teachers.
Today I ask of you, where are you studying the recipe, when you could be eating the meal? Where are you gorging on books, on podcasts, on teachings, when you could in fact be integrating slowly and consistently 10% of what you learn, to better effect.