The Beginner's Mind
My Karate Sensei told us this story.
"Long time ago when you studied Karate in the Japanese village, you tied your gi ( uniform ) with a rope and that rope was your white belt. Most of the time you practiced outside, in the field or in the yard, so the white belt first became brown and after even more practice, black. That's how you get your black belt."
"Then," he would say, pausing to let this Zen teaching sink in deeply, "you continue to practice more years and your black belt begins to fall apart and the threads come out white."
"Always remember, the true goal of Karate is to become a white belt again."
Barefoot and Happy
Looking down at his feet, a client once said that he felt '...really uncomfortable... doing new things."
I also looked down at his feet and asked, "How uncomfortable is that?"
"These stupid shoes?" he asked, " The worst part, they're not even mine"
"Really?" I asked.
He nodded, "They're a gift, they're all "gifts", you know, birthdays, Christmas, I don't think I ever got anything of my own, and I hate how they fit."
We were both very quiet for a few seconds as the deeper meaning was being processed and brought into awareness. Then we both burst out laughing.
A moment later he took off his shoes, said 'Thank you!' and walked out of the session in his socks, now happy and smiling a subtle all knowing smile.
The following session he told me how he started dropping all his ill fitting "Gifts" at the thrift store and buying what suited him for a change.
For the next few months he just kept getting rid of more 'gifts' given him by the 'well meaning' others: goofy sweaters, old habits, pointless conversations and other stuff that no longer fit who "I now remember and create myself to be..." he declared in a very congruent tone one day.
It's funny how sometimes the gifts others give are just ill fitting shoes and sometimes they're nothing but metaphors for life transformation.
The Long and the Short of it
A friend of mine moved from the U.S. to Hong Kong to study Tai Chi with a revered Grand Master.
When he arrived the Grand Master said that it would take my friend years of diligent Chi practice before he would see any serious martial arts results.
So my friend asked the grand master if there was some good self defense system he could learn in the meanwhile as he was developing his Tai Chi.
The Grand Master sent my friend to an American boxing gym just down the street.
Don't Try this in Church!
In a remote village a new Buddhist temple was set to open and the novice monks eagerly awaited the Old Venerable Monk to arrive from afar and dedicate the opening of new temple with all the appropriate rituals, prayers and ceremonies.
When the Old Monk was seen coming up the hill all the novice monks ran inside, lined up in a row, and bowed in reverent greeting as the Old Monk entered the temple.
Upon entering and without hesitation the Old Monk made his way to the temple's most beautiful centerpiece - an ornate gilded statue of the Buddha - where upon the Old Monk lifted his robe and with a great sigh of relief began to piss all over the statue.
Shocked, shaken and glaring daggers at the Old Monk, the novice monks were besides themselves with confusion and rage.
With great compassion and loving kindness for their plight the Old Monk asked them, "Tell me brothers, where can I possibly piss that the Buddha is not?"