Often when I use quotations in my posts, I place them at the end. Today, I'll start with one:
"Studying Zen should not be confused with practicing Zen, like studying aesthetics should not be confused with being an artist." TP Kasulis
Funny, this was posted by DailyZen on twitter just as the idea regarding study versus practice was hovering about in my mind. So, here's the deal, I 'discovered' Buddhism in the context of my own life about four years ago, in the spring of 2007. Since then I have read a lot of books, articles, blog posts, attended lectures, and gone on a short retreat. In all, this has been an intense period of study.
And I wouldn't trade it for the world. I learned so much, most of which I was able to apply directly to my life in a positive way, which no one topic has ever enabled me to do. I devoured books from Thich Nhat Hanh, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Thubten Chodron, Pema Chodron, Steven T. Asma, and Susan Piver. So many discussions, uncertainties, thoughts, and realizations- it has all been beneficial.
But lately I have been experiencing something curious. I go to the bookstore and stand there, in front of the 'religion and spirituality' section, unable to choose any book. I am at a loss. I have not lost interest, I still enjoy the all the writings I have in the past. And being cheap is not the issue, because it is the same deal at the public library.
Then I realized- now is no longer the time to read, the time to think. It is time to practice in earnest.
Of course practice has always been important to me, but as someone who was only recently introduced to Buddhism, my initial focus was learning some background (okay, a lot of background). I will continue to read books and texts, but I feel the time has come to deepen my practice, mostly through my everyday actions and routine. As with many things in our lives, we shift our focus when we are ready to move on to the next step. For me, the time is now.
May all beings be happy!