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154.  On Losing Ground by Standing Still

November 17, 1973   (Saturday noon)


Your study of the Buddhadharma should be lively, not stiff and dead. When we are investigating topics together, anyone who has an opinion may express it immediately. It shouldn’t be that you would like to speak but don’t dare, being afraid to talk even though you want to. For instance, one layman didn’t know which of two questions to ask, and ended up not asking either one.  

Those of you who have studied the Buddhadharma for many years should not hold back or retreat, so that when someone asks a question, no one answers. If you are that way, then the more you study, the more you retreat. If you retreat, then you will be overtaken by the newcomers. Therefore, all of you should ask yourselves if you have the intention to retreat. If not, then you should go forward with heroic vigor, not just wait. 

An old adage goes: “By standing still, you lose two and a half miles.” If, for example, the two monks doing three-steps-one-bow were averaging five miles a day, and they stopped for awhile, they would lose two and a half miles. Since you won’t be going forward, you will actually be losing ground. All of you should be courageously vigorous and not retreat.


(Timely Teachings)