‘I was having team with Master Han in his office when the mailman arrived with a letter from the master’s family in Korea. Knowing he had been eagerly anticipating the letter, I paused in our conversation, expecting him to tear open the envelope and hastily scan the contents. Instead, he put the letter aside, turned to me and continued our conversation.
The following day I remarked his self-control, saying that I would have opened the letter at once. “I did what I would have done had I been alone”, he said. “I put the letter aside until I had conquered haste. Then when I set my hand to it, I opened it as though it were something precious”.
I puzzled over this comment a moment, knowing he meant it to be a lesson for me. Finally, I said I didn’t understand what such patience led to.
“It leads to this”, he said. “Those who are patient in the trivial things in life and control themselves will one day have the same mastery in great and important things”.
Story from Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams.
I love Joe’s story very much. When I was in Northern India studying the Siddhi’s up in the Himalayan mountains with a dear teacher and friend of mine, in a huge two-week immersion, I one day went for a huge walk alone and stumbled across a tiny store. I bought little Cadbury chocolate bars for everyone, those of us that loved sugar were tiring of sucking on the odd piece of jaggery when desperate. I snuck up to the room and laid one out on everyone’s mats for an after lunch discovery. Everyone but our teacher ripped theirs open and devoured them on the spot. Our teacher though thanked me and put his aside. I asked him afterwards why he didn’t eat it right away? He explained he used the little moments in life to cultivate patience, he wanted to learn to savour things without the instant gratification, instead of cultivating longer enjoyment through a small delay. He explained the mind instantly wants everything devoured, and it was essential training to master this. It was a big learning for me.
Written with love,