In Judo there are hundreds of different throwing techniques and manoeuvres and students in the early months of training hope to learn a new one every week or so. Some teachers refuse, and tell then to keep practising away at just a couple. Other teachers do in fact demonstrate many different tricks.
The fact is that however many tricks a student may have in his repertoire, he will not be able to do any of them, because he has no balance. While he is making the moves which are designed to upset the opponent he begins to be upset himself. Sometimes he loses his balance so completely when trying to do a complicated movement at speed that he even falls over.
In both cases the student thinks he is learning technique but in fact he is learning balance. The teacher has to calculate how many new tricks he has to seem to show in order to keep a pupil interested. Some pupils can peg away doggedly at just two techniques for a few months in spite of constant failures. Others get disheartened and feel that perhaps this technique has not suited me so I should ask for another one. They are like people in a rain shower who keep changing direction in the hope that it will be drier over there. The application to inner training is that some people want to keep changing the practice they do because they are not very successful with it. They do not know that what they are developing, by any practice, is inner calm and clearness, and focus. Until they have some degree of these, no practice will be successful. In the Judo case the dogged two-trick Judoka will acquire balance more quickly than the other will. But when he has got some degree of skill with these he has his own time of character testing as the teacher tells him he must now give up for a time these which bring temporary successes and a certain status. He has to practice new ones that he cannot yet do well and therefore perhaps feel like a beginner again.
In the inner training people acquire some skill in a branch of the tradition such as learning or helpfulness with others, or organising ability, and so on, which can get them a little status. The teacher may recommend the would-be scholar to scrub the steps, the helping hand to study texts and the organiser to sit much longer in meditation.
What they acquire is not particular skill in these things but a vigorous spiritual vitality. This is the spring that waters all the fields.
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© 1999 Trevor Leggett