“We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world” ~ Helen Keller
A martial arts student went to his teacher and said earnestly, “I am devoted to studying your martial system. How long will it take me to master it?”
The teacher’s reply was casual, “Ten years”.
Impatiently, the student answered, “But I want to master it faster than that. I will work very hard. I will practice every day, ten or more hours a day if I have to. How long will it take then”?
The teacher thought for a moment, “20 years”.
What’s the lesson in it for us?
The Kung Fu Master has conveyed a powerful message in a such a simple way to the warrior. In Hindi language Patience means धैर्य (Dhairya) and Dhairya implies courage – it is patience in the face of danger. Even in our daily routine we get impatient and anxious that the outcome may not be as we want it to be. This means we do not have trust in the universal order of things to accept in grace the outcome. And so we take preemptive hurried action often resulting in a lesser result or failure.
Most of our educational and training institutions of learning and parents too miss out on teaching the virtues of patience and courage to students. Perhaps the teachers themselves are not aware of the intangible power of these virtues and believe in quick-fix short-term solutions. In corporate or in our personal life we are in a race to aggressively achieve goals often without a pause ~ to breathe and think. Those familiar with yoga will know all movements are gradual and graceful and yet they bring about a harmonious balance between mind and body.
In oriental philosophy too the sage Lao Tsu taught that all straining, all striving are not only vain but counterproductive. It does not literally mean to do nothing, but to discern with a quiet mind and follow the natural forces to follow and shape the flow of events and not to pit oneself against the natural order of things.
I am sure the student above would have bowed in humility and gratitude to the Master for this beautiful lesson.