About Academics, Practitioners and Yogis - Existential Specialists
This morning I watched some videos of a buddhist seminar where some academics, monastics and lay practitioners had given their presentations about various dharma-related subjects. It's not the first time I see such presentations, and also this time, as previously, something poked me from those lectures.
Regarding academic study of yoga, dharma and buddhism I never understood why someone would put more time and effort in the theoretical study of it, over practical study. I never understood why one would spend more time with second hand information about existence when you could get first hand knowledge directly from your own mind by doing the practice. Listening to academics, who often give their representations about various types of information that they have accumulated from second hand sources, to me it feels like driving a car that has flat tires. There is something essential missing there. It is just superficial information, exciting and fascinating thoughts and theories. Without practice, these ideas makes it even worse because there grows a gap between practice and its actual benefits, and purely theoretical information.
To be clear there is no problem with information or academic study, I just never understood about this kind of priorisation of things. If you know you are deluded by your sense of small self, and you know about the availability of various traditions and their practices that can help you to get out from that delusion, why would you not make solving that existential problem a priority in your life?
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:
“When buddhas look at samsara with the eyes of their omniscience, they do not see it as an enjoyable place. They are acutely aware of the sufferings of beings, and they see how senseless are the pointless, temporary goals that beings try so hard to attain. It is important to become more and more clearly convinced that the only thing worth achieving is supreme enlightenment. Contemplating the sufferings of samsara, you will naturally develop a strong wish to be liberated from it."
In this light pursuing academic studies of yoga, without practice, is just another samsaric distraction.
I always say that we need professional yogis here in the West, and actually everywhere in the world because priests, doctors, psychologists or academics cannot help people with their existential confusion. Only highly trained specialists of the "teaching of reality", i.e. yoga and dharma can do that.
For this reason, especially in these dark times, those who hear the call in their hearts, should make the attainment of supreme enlightenment for the sake of oneself and others, the foremost priority in their lives above anything else.
In relation to this, I was also reminded of this short text by Jon Norris: