Learning versus Doing

Once I proposed leading a prayer class. My idea was to teach and practice prayer. The class just wanted some information about types of prayer. If I asked them to sit still and pray, they found it intolerable.

That is a bit like the feeling I had reading Ryan Holiday’s latest book Stillness Is The Key. Holiday is a talented writer who found his niche writing about the Stoics. He also has amassed many influential friends who have helped promote the book.

Maybe all the hype raised my expectations given my 50+ years of pursuing stillness (or, non-pursuing as the Zen Buddhists might practice). But I found the book not up to my expectations.

He divides the idea of stillness describing body, mind, and spirit. Each has nine aspects of its nature. Then he pulls together examples from famous sports, political, and thinking/literary lives.

It is a book about stillness. If you wish to know the benefits of stillness, this is a good, short read. If you wish for tips to help you get to stillness, then this is not the book.

Perhaps he has added a bit this idea from Herbert Simon, a researcher and thinker and Nobel Prize winning economist and cognitive psychologist, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

Sometimes we read too much and focus and think too little. Not to mention pray.

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