“There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”
Morpheus says this to Neo in The Matrix (1999), which remains one of my favorite movies. Probably most people know there is a lot of Zen in The Matrix. It doesn’t matter if it’s Zen or Tai Chi or yoga or studying Chinese medicine that leads you to the path.
I found this post from a writer in Zambia, who practices Tai Chi:
Difficulties are a natural part of any journey, and indeed they can work to strengthen us. The Taoist idea of Yin and Yang has been of great help. The principle of opposites took me a while to understand, but once I had made the discovery, my path got more illumined. Take this into consideration: you must be empty in order to be filled. When you are full, nothing else can come in, but if you are empty more and more can come in.
Different practices offer different methods to destabilize our established world, to wake us up. One part of waking up is seeing that there is a path. One part is learning the signs that show us we are on (or off) the path. Some folks might spend a long time learning about the path without actually setting foot on it.
In The Matrix, the freedom fighters (whose mission is to save all beings) can load a program into your mind that enables you to learn something complex in just a few minutes. For example, Neo asks Trinity if she can fly a helicopter. She says, “Not yet.” Then she calls their operator, Tank, and he zaps the helicopter pilot training directly into her brain. She jumps into the chopper and takes off. Her flying ability is fantastic — but then bullets pierce the fuel tank, and the helicopter goes out of control.
We can learn a lot about this path with our brains, but the only way to experience this path is to walk on it.