A pupil asked why they were expected to study the texts. “Surely it is enough if we simply do the practises?”
“Merely to perform the practises, like a pledge fulfilled, will not be effective if there is no inner conviction. The whole personality has to be unified into the practise.”
“But why? Can’t the disturbing elements of the personality be put down by very strong practise?”
“They may be put down,” replied the teacher, “but they may not stay down. A seventeenth-century Japanese Zen master relates how he once met an old priest who talked incessantly, like a waterfall. After a little time, he suggested to the old man that practise of silence was a good thing occasionally.
“Of course it is,” shouted the priest. “A very good thing, a very good thing it is, a very good thing indeed. I should know better than anyone, better than anyone. When I was young I practised a vow of complete silence for fifteen years, fifteen full years, I tell you. I never spoke a word during those fifteen years, not a word. I’m the man to tell you about silence,” and he proceeded to do so.