“It was summer, and very hot. There was a very old monk at work, drying mushrooms. Old and frail as he was, he was spreading the mushrooms out in the sun. Master Dogen saw him and asked him, “Why are you working? You are an old monk and a superior of the temple. You should get younger people to do this work. It is not necessary for you to work. Besides, it is extremely hot today. Do that another day.” The monk said to him, “You have come from Japan, young man, you are intelligent and you understand Buddhism, but you do not understand the essence of Zen. If I do not do this, if I do not work here and now, who could understand? I am not you, I am not others. Others are not me. So others cannot have the experience. If I don’t work, if I do not have this experience here and now, I cannot understand. If a young monk helped me to do the work, if I were to stand by and watch him, then I could not have the experience of drying these mushrooms. If I said, “Do this, do that. Put them here or there,” I could not have the experience. I could not understand the act that is here and now. “I am not others and others are not me.” Master Dogen was startled, and he suddenly understood. True, he was highly intelligent. He had studied in books, he had looked with his brain and he spent all his time thinking, but just then he understood: “If I do not have the experience I cannot understand true Zen.”
I often think of this story when talking with magicians. I am always willing to help and guide when I can - to help foster good choices and move magic in a positive direction. But at a certain point every student in any field, magic included, must gain experience and answers by doing. Experience teaches lessons that can not be learned ANY other way. No book, no dvd, no lecture, no message board, and no talk with another magician can replace the experience of doing. Understand that I am not discounting those resources. Far from it, they are VERY valuable and necessary. But at a certain point all magicians need to “do” in order to “know”. It’s the only way to find real wisdom in any field. You can not master magic in a vacuum, you need to “do”.
All study, practice, and rehearsal can only fully blossom in the act of doing.