To see and to do is better than to know and to speak.
To know something is to wrap our minds around it intellectually.
To speak of that something is to label it.
To see and to do is to immerse ourselves in a phenomena with our entire being. To experience it completely, such that most of what we feel cannot be put into words.
Soetsu Yanagi writes,
To "see" is to go direct to the core; to know the facts about an object of beauty is to go around the periphery.
Beauty is a kind of mystery, which is why it cannot be grasped adequately through the intellect. The part of it available to intellection lacks depth.
He who only knows without seeing, does not understand the mystery. Even should every detail of beauty be accounted for by the intellect, does such tabulation lead to beauty? Is the beauty that can be neatly reckoned really profound?
Soetsu Yanagi, The Unknown Craftsman
When I visit an art museum, I move quickly through the gallery. I rarely read the descriptions of the paintings or sculptures. Sometimes I'll take a picture of the work and the name of the artist for later reference, but I mainly want to experience the art without thinking about it too deeply.
I want my intuition to lead me to what is beautiful, not my inner art critic with an assist from the museum curator.
Similarly, I rarely hire a guide or take a tour. I don't want to experience a phenomena through the eyes of another, nor at their pace.
I'll gladly sacrifice the "learning" and "knowing" I can get from an expert for seeing and doing as a novice.
Besides, I forget most of what I know‒the facts and the figures, the schools and the movements, the dates.
But I never forget what is truly beautiful. I don't forget because instead of reading or hearing, I immerse myself and let the beauty pass through me and leave its imprint on my soul.
-J.D. Stein | March 2014