Question: After a year practising on one line isn’t there a danger of getting stale? Surely it’s best to make a change in the practice and try on a different line so the mind gets some fresh stimulation.

Answer: There was a training centre in mediaeval China near the top of a mountain that had too small peaks. There was a small temple and meditation hall on each peak but they belonged to the same centre.

The teacher once remarked: “Students are generally assigned to one of the two for their basic training period, which in most cases lasts several years. I find that some students in the East Peak temple come to me after a couple of years and say that they don’t feel they are getting on well enough there. They think there is something lacking in the atmosphere of the East Peak and that it would be better on the West Peak so they ask to be transferred. And some students of the West Peak similarly think they might do better on the East Peak.

“I tell them to have a look at the temple cat when a big saucer of hot milk is put down for it. The cat goes up to the saucer and tries to lap the milk but finds it is too hot. So it goes round the saucer to the opposite side and tries again there apparently in the hope that it will be cooler on that side. But it never is, and the cat has to wait quite a bit before it can manage it.”

© Trevor Leggett

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