There is an old story that goes like this:
A young boy traveled across Japan to the school of a famous martial artist. When he arrived at the dojo he was given an audience by the Sensei.
“What do you wish from me?” the master asked.
“I wish to be your student and become the finest kareteka in the land,” the boy replied. “How long must I study?”
“Ten years at least,” the master answered.
“Ten years is a long time,” said the boy. “What if I studied twice as hard as all your other students?”
“Twenty years,” replied the master.
“Twenty years! What if I practice day and night with all my effort?”
“Thirty years,” was the master’s reply.
“How is it that each time I say I will work harder, you tell me that it will take longer?” the boy asked.
“The answer is clear. When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way.”
This simple story reminds me of our modern culture. It’s all about getting there. Where is there? I don’t know, but it must be somewhere good because otherwise why would we sacrifice our mental health, our physical health, our families, and our lives in pursuit of There?
There are many beautiful discoveries and advancements man has made and continues to make. There is a refinement we have forgotten, though.
That refinement is subtraction.
We are so busy adding things to our lives that we don’t see the value in subtracting things from our lives. It seems like that would be going backwards, and why would we want to go backwards?
Perhaps it is going backwards in a way. It is definitely a going Back. Back to ourselves and back to the simple beauty and pleasures of life. Back to What Is. The What Is that rests like a heavy jewel buried deep beneath What Isn’t.
When we look at things from the perspective of what we don’t have or what we need to add to our lives, we miss the perfect treasure that beats within us. The beauty of What Is cannot shine when it’s buried under What Isn’t.
There is a value to be had in subtracting. A value to nothingness. A value to stillness. A value to things that can’t be listed or accounted for or added up.
“The Way” referenced in the story above can only be found by our internal compass. We cannot follow someone else’s path. They can guide us in the right direction, but it is up to us to keep both eyes open and to keep our perspective clear so we can find Our Way.
It seems that often what happens is we arrive where we’re going to find that what we’ve been seeking was traveling with us the entire time.
When you realize the treasure you have to give, that you’ve had with you all along, give it away.
It will always be with you, so you can afford to give it away.