Home » Features » Should You Be More Keen On Dharma Learning Or Practice?

He is not ‘one versed in the Dharma’
just because he talks much.
He who hears only a little but comprehends the Dharma,
and is not unmindful is,
indeed, ‘one versed in the Dharma’.

– The Buddha (Dhammapada)

As summarised from Venerable Mahacunda’s teachings in the Cunda Sutta:

There are (scholar) monastics keen on Dharma-learning (study and teaching),
who disparage (practitioner) monastics keen on meditation practice (for calmness and clarity),
saying the latter think they are meditation experts, meditating here and there,
but do not seem to know how to meditate and why.
Both parties are thus displeased, not working for the well-being of all.
[This is a lose-lose-lose situation.]

There are monastics keen on meditation practice,
who disparage monastics keen on the Dharma-learning,
saying the latter think they are Dharma experts, talking here and there,
but do not seem to know how to be mindful and concentrate.
Both parties are thus displeased, not working for the well-being of all.
[This is a lose-lose-lose situation.]

There are Dharma learners praising only Dharma experts, but not meditators.
There are meditation practitioners praising only meditation experts, but not Dharma learners.
Both parties are thus displeased, not working for the well-being of all.
[With disparagement for each other and lack of praise for each other,
both will neither teach each other not learn from each other to benefit.
This is a lose-lose-lose situation.]

Therefore, Dharma experts should also praise meditation experts,
as such outstanding ones who [strive to] experience the deathless [Nirvana] are rare.
Therefore, meditation experts should also praise Dharma experts,
as such outstanding ones who [can] by wisdom clearly understand the difficult are rare.
[Both parties are thus displeased, working for the well-being of all.
This is a win-win-win situation.]

[While it is natural to have stronger inclination
towards either Dharma theory or practice,
a true Dharma learner is also a true Dharma practitioner, and
a true Dharma practitioner is also a true Dharma learner,
which is why we must seek balanced harmony for the well-being of all.
This is a win-win-win situation.]

To insist on Dharma learning without practice
or Dharma practice without learning
is to imagine a bird can fly with only one wing.
Dharma learning is for Dharma practice.
Dharma practice is for Dharma learning.

Stonepeace | Books

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