Leonardo da Vinci was always curious. As a young man he studied metallurgy, drafting, mechanics and the creative arts. This wasn’t enough, so he expanded his inquiry to include science, nature and the world around him. da Vinci constantly recorded his studies, then later they informed other work. He is quoted as having said, “The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies every thing placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence.”
Students begged da Vinci to take them on. He would caution them, “I am impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” He wanted ideas and techniques tested and employed, not just learned by rote. Even when students agreed with him, mastery could grow only from use and exploration of their tools.
Spiritual masters have left a bounty of texts and techniques for students and seekers. These lessons may seem accessible and indisputable, which makes it easy to nod along as you read. Leonardo da Vinci would have been unsatisfied with such inattentive consumption. He knew the value of learning from and trusting masters, but verified these truths with practice and study until they became his own.
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