DISTRACTED BY A FOUR-LEGGED STOOL

 

Master: Most courageous lion tamers use two tools to control and ‘tame’ the fierce companions prowling around the cage: a whip and a stool, or a chair. Which of the two is the most valuable to the tamer?

Student: Surely the whip.

Master: No. The one most important tool is the stool, and more specifically, the four legs of the stool!

Student: That’s odd! Why so?

Master:  A lion can easily overpower, maul and kill a person. However, it’s only easy for the lion to do so if it can focus on the singular object of the person. The lion tamer uses the stool as a method of distraction. The lion, when faced with the legs of the stool, tries to focus on all four at once. Confused, and unable to focus, it stands there, frozen!  The lion tamer remains relatively safe behind the stool.

Source: Based on a story found in
David Feldman
How Does Aspirin Find a Headache?
(New York: HarperCollins, 1993.) pages 9-11

CONSIDER THIS

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Whether you know it or not, you’re already in the circus ring of life. Most of the time, we sit quietly, maybe confused, gazing at the wooden stool dangled in front of us, silently debating about which leg is the most important.

“You will never get to the end of the journey if you stop to shy a stone at every dog that barks.” —Winston Churchill, Speech, 3 December 1923

“The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.” —Richard Cecil

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” —Source Unknown

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WHERE IS YOUR FOCUS?

 

Gerry was walking down a sidewalk in Washington D.C., with a Native American friend who worked in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It was lunchtime in Washington. People were husslin’ and busslin’ along the sidewalks, and car honks and hurried engine noises filled the streets.  In the middle of all this traffic, Gerry’s friend stopped and said, “hey, a. cricket!”

“What?” said Gerry.

“Yeah, a cricket,” said his friend. “Look here,” and he pulled aside some of the bushes that separated the sidewalk from the government buildings. There in the shade was a cricket chirping away.

“Wow,” said Gerry, “How did you hear that with all this noise and traffic?”

“Oh,” said the Native man. “It was the way I was raised … what I was taught to listen for. Here, I’ll show you something.”

The Native man reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of coins … nickels, quarters, dimes … and dropped then on the sidewalk. Everyone who was rushing by stopped to …  listen.

Source: Susan Strauss
Passionate Fact: Storytelling in Natural History and Cultural Interpretation (Fulcrum Publishing, 1996) page 9

CONSIDER THIS

We with our busy lives, rushing down highways and byways, preoccupied with our own inner thoughts and expectations, what do we hear?

Where is your focus? What are you paying attention to? What are you listening to?

SINGLE HEARTEDNESS

A young but earnest Zen student approached his teacher, and asked the Zen Master:

“If I work very hard and diligent how long will it take for me to find Zen.”

The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years.”

The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then ?”

Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.”

“But, if I really, really work at it. How long then ?” asked the student.

“Thirty years,” replied the Master.

“But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”

Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

Source: As quoted in Saskia Shakin
More Than Words Can Say: The Making of Inspired Speakers
Ovation Publishers (November 2008)

_______________________________

Here’s a shorter version of the same story

Student: How long will it take me to learn enlightenment?
Master: Five years.

Student: What if I try real hard?
Master: Ten years.

Source:  Melannie Svoboda
In Steadfast Love: Letters on the Spiritual Life
(Twenty-Third Publications, 2007) page 66

CONSIDER THIS

It is not about working harder, but rather about stepping back and gentle focus.  Stop trying  so hard and instead allow things to happen unto you.

When an archer is shooting for nothing, he has all his skill.
If he shoots for a brass buckle, he is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold, he goes blind or sees two targets –
He is out of his mind!
His skill has not changed. But the prize divides him.
He cares. He thinks more of winning than of shooting—
And the need to win drains him of power.

(Chuang Tzu : 19:4, p. 158)