Once a beginner asked a Zen master, "Master, what is the first principle?" Without hesitation, the master replied, "If I were to tell you, it would become the second principle."
The first principle cannot be said. The most important thing cannot be said, and that which can be said will not be the first principle. The moment truth is uttered it becomes a lie; the very utterance is a falsification. ...the truth cannot be contained by any word whatsoever. The truth can only be experienced. The truth can be lived, but there is no way to say it.
The word is a far, faraway echo of the real experience. It is so far away from the real that it is worse than the unreal because it can give you a false confidence. It can give you a false promise. You can believe it, and that is the problem. If you start believing in some dogma, you go on missing the truth. Truth has to be known by experience. No belief can help you on the way; all beliefs are barriers.
...Beliefs are cheap. You can believe and yet remain the same. You can go on believing, and it doesn't require any basic change in your life pattern. It does not require any change in your consciousness, and unless your consciousness changes, the belief is just a toy. You can play with it, you can deceive yourself with it, but it is not going to nourish you.
Visualize a child playing in the garden of his house, playing with imaginary lions, and then suddenly he has to face a real lion who has escaped from the zoo. Now he does not know what to do. He is scared out of his wits. He is paralyzed; he cannot even run. He was perfectly at ease with the imaginary, but with the real he does not know what to do.
That is the situation of all those people who go on playing with beliefs, concepts, philosophies, theologies. They ask questions just to ask questions. The answer is the last thing they are interested in. They don't want the answer. They go on playing with questions, and each answer helps them to create new questions. Each answer is nothing but a jumping board for more question. The truth is not a question. It is a quest! It is not intellectual; it is existential. The inquiry is a gamble, a gamble with your life. It needs tremendous courage. Belief needs no courage. Belief is the way of the coward.
...Truth surrounds you. It is in the air, it is in the fragrance of the flowers, it is in the flow of the river, it is in the green leaves, it is in the stars, it is in the dust, it is in you. Only truth is! But you go on avoiding it and you go on asking questions. How to attain the truth? Where is the map? Which way is it? And even if the map is given to you, the map does not help you in any way. In the first place, the map cannot be given, because the truth goes on changing. It is not a stagnant phenomenon; it is continuously changing. It is alive; it is breathing. It is never the same; it is never the same for two consecutive moments.
- Zen: Its History and Teachings and Impact on Humanity (Pillars of Consciousness) (pp. 86-90)
What does ANY of this have to do with training? Well, occasionally I have to remind people that a key component of mastery is EXPERIENCE (and the time it takes to acquire it). If you want to be good at squatting, for example, I can give you tips and templates; I can answer every question, but nothing, absolutely NOTHING will take the place of time under the bar. You have to put in the reps. "It is a quest! It is not intellectual; it is existential."
It is experiential. There is no way around it.