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 fields or in the back yards, so the white belt first became brown and after even practice, black. That's how you get your black belt."
"Then," he would say, pausing to let this Zen teaching sink in, "you continue to practice more years and when your black belt falls apart and the threads come out white."
"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."
So I also looked down at his feet and asked, "How uncomfortable is that?"
"These shoes?" he asked, " 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've ever got anything by my self"
For a while we were both very quiet as the deeper meanings of these words were 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, strong, happy and smiling.
The following session he told me how he went home, gathered a bunch of his other ill fitting "Gifts" and gave them to the local thrift store.
For the next few months he just kept getting rid even more stuff that didn't suit him any more: goofy sweaters, old habits, pointless conversations and so on.
It's funny how sometimes the gifts others give us are just ill fitting shoes and sometimes they're nothing but life changing metaphors.
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 years of diligent practice before my friend would see any real results in his Tai Chi.
So my friend asked the Grand Master if there was some good self defense system he could learn while he was developing his Tai Chi.
The Grand Master sent him 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 new temple with all the appropriate rituals, prayers and ceremonies.
When the Old Monk was seen coming up the hill, 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 beautiful centerpiece - a 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, 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?"