There is a story about a young man in Japan who wanted to be the greatest martial artist of the land. He thought that to reach this goal, he must study with the best instructor, who lived many miles away.
One day he left home to go study with this great Zen teacher. After traveling for several days, he arrived at the school and was given an audience with the teacher. “What do you wish to learn from me?” the master asked.
“I want you to teach me your art and help me become one of the best martial artists in the country,” the young man replied. “How long must I study?”
“Ten years at least,” the master answered.
The guy thought, ten years is a lot of time. I want to get this done sooner than that. I don’t have that much time. Certainly, if I try harder I can complete this task quicker. So he asked the master, “What if I studied twice as hard as everyone else? How long would it take then?”
“Then it would take twenty years,” replied the master.
The guy thought, ‘That’s even longer! I don’t want to spend twenty years learning something. I’ve got other things to do with my life. Certainly, if I tried really hard I could learn it much quicker‘.
So the student asked again, “What if I practised day and night with all my effort, then how long would it take?”
“Thirty years,” was the master’s response.
The young student became confused and wondered why the master kept telling him it would take longer.
He asked the master “How is it that each time I say I will work harder, you tell me that it will take longer?”
“The answer is simple. With one eye focused on your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way,” the master said.
This story is I find very telling about how we go about a lot of things. We hold ourselves to expectations about what will occur once our goal is completed, and we will do anything to get to the end, to tick that box, to achieve that thing, to know it’s completed, without really surrendering to the process. What we miss out on the way, sometimes makes the end goal not even satisfying. What would total presence to the entire sequence look like instead? The question isn’t what can I do to get this done, the question is what does this very moment ask of me.
Sent with love,