Short Stories

Master the Mind

After winning several archery contests and being proclaimed the best archer of all times, a young man grew a huge ego. Ridding high on his accomplishments the champion challenged a Zen master who was also renowned for his skill as an archer but had never competed. Without waiting for the Zen master to accept the offer, the champion took two arrows out of his quiver. Demonstrating remarkable technical proficiency he hit a distant bull’s eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second arrow.

“There,” he said to the old man, “see if you can match that!” Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain.

Curious about the old man’s intentions, the champion followed him high up the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit.

“Now it is your turn,” he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground. Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target.

“You have much skill with your bow,” the master said, sensing his challenger’s predicament, “but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot.”

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