Moment of Truth
There was a young student-archer who reached such proficiency in his art that he could shoot an arrow into a tree and then cleave that arrow into two with the next shot. He began to boast that he was a greater archer than his guru.
One day his guru, a venerable old man in his 50’s, asked the youth to accompany him on a trip across the hills. The journey was uneventful until they came to a deep chasm.
A single log spanned the chasm. The guru walked down to the centre of the log, unshouldered his bow and taking an arrow shot it into a tree on the other side. His next shot cleaved the first arrow into two.
“Now it’s your turn,” he said, walking back to where his student was standing.
The youth stepped gingerly on the log and very slowly and carefully made his way to the middle. But his heart was in his mouth. He knew that if he lost his footing, he would plunge to his death. His hands trembled as he strung an arrow into his bow. Preoccupied with the danger he was in, he found it hard to focus on the target. Consequently when he let go of the arrow, it missed the tree altogether. Whimpering, he turned around.
“Help me!” he shouted to his guru. “I’ll fall!”
The old man walked up to him, took his hand and stepping backwards led him to safety. Neither of them said a word on the return journey but the boy had much to think about.
He had realised that to be a master of his art it was not enough to know how to control the bow, he had to learn how to control his mind too.