An old Zen master always told this fable to unserious students:
Late one night a blind man was about to go home after visiting a friend. “Please,” he said to his friend, “May I take your lantern with me?”
“Why carry a lantern?” asked his friend. “You won’t see any better with it.”
“No,” said the blind one, “perhaps not. But others will see me better, and not bump into me. So his friend gave the blind man the lantern, which was made of paper on bamboo strips, with a candle inside.
Off went the blind man with the lantern, and before he had gone more than a few yards, Crack! -someone walked right into him. The blind man was very angry. “Why don’t you look out?” he stormed. “Why don’t you see this lantern?”
“Why don’t you light the candle?” asked the other.
In this age, we are blessed with a enormous amount of knowledge from the past and all faiths. In many places in the world, we also have enough religious tolerance that you can explore whatever practice of religion, spirituality, or meditation that you prefer.
With all of this treasure before us it is good to remember than it can only become our real possession when we understand and experience it for ourselves.
In my own (Michael’s) experience, I have been given a great deal of excellent teaching from both Zen sensei and Gurdjieffian teachers. I have also read innumerable books. However, none of it has been so important as the practice of mindfulness, meditation, and self-reflection. Only through the quieting of the mind and maturation of the spirit have I been able to receive a tiny fraction of all the wisdom available to me.
Thus, to practice is to light your candle. The flame is the inner illumination that we are seeking. Without flame/consciousness, the mind/lantern – and the way – is dark. So you are invited to practice by yourself and with others to seek illumination and enlightenment.