I have never heard of or read about anyone who attained enlightenment in this way. If it were possible, many of the scholars of Buddhism would be enlightened. Academic learning is like trying to know what kimchi, one of the typical Korean foods is by studying the recipe for kimchi, whereas Zen meditation is like eating kimchi in person. Getting knowledge of kimchi is one thing and eating it in person is another.
Academic learning is a process of teaching and learning through language, namely words. From the viewpoint of Zen meditation, trying to get enlightened through academic learning is like trying to extinguish flames by spreading gasoline, instead of water over fire, because academic learning provides people with words or labels, whereas enlightenment is to see and hear everything without any labels.
So, masters would say that trying to attain enlightenment through academic learning is like striving to burn a huge mountain with the glow of a firefly.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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