Discipline Of Meditation

After having won many archery contests, the town champion went to the Zen master.<>

– I am the best of all, he said.<>

– I didn’t study religion, never sought help from the monks, and succeeded in becoming the finest archer in the whole region.<>

I heard that, for a time, you were the best archer in the region, and ask you: Was it necessary to become a monk in order to learn to shoot?<>

– No,  replied the Zen master.<>

But the champion was not satisfied: He took an arrow, placed it in the bow, fired it and hit a cherry which was very far away.<>

Smiling, as if to say: “You might have saved your time, devoting yourself only to technique.” And he said:<>

– I doubt whether you could do that. Without looking in the least bit worried, the master went inside, fetched his bow, and began to walk towards a nearby mountain.<>

On the way, there was an abyss which could only be crossed by an old bridge made of rotting rope, and which was almost collapsing.<>

The Zen master went to the middle of the bridge, took his bow and placed an arrow in it, then aimed at a tree on the far side of the precipice, and hit his target.<>

– Now it is your turn. He kindly told the young man, as he returned to firm ground.<>

Terrified as he gazed down at the abyss below his feet, the young man went to the spot and fired, but his arrow veered wide of the mark.<>

– That is why the discipline of meditation was worthwhile. Concluded the master, when the young man returned to him.<>

“You may have great skill with the instrument you choose for your livelihood, but it us useless, if you cannot command the mind which uses that instrument.”<>

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