“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle” said Plato. “Concentration is the secret of strength”, said Ralph Waldo Emerson.

For a successful life both compassion and concentration are essential.

I am giving below two Zen stories from my notebook. I just collected these two stories – one from the net and the other from a magazine.After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen Guru who was renowned for his skill as an archer.

The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull’s eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot.“There”, he said to the old master, “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 into 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 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.”

A prince goes to a Zen master and talks him that he wants to be enlightened – immediately.Instead of sending him away, the master says it could be arranged.After finding out from the prince that he plays chess very well, the master sets up a game between the visitor and one of his disciples who has just a passing knowledge of chess.

The condition is : Whoever loses will be beheaded.Predictably, the prince starts dominating the game. Soon, however, his conscience pricks him: “I would come to this monastery for a selfish purpose, but now I may become the cause of this poor disciple’s death.”

He deliberately starts playing badly.

But playing well was second nature to him, playing badly needs his entire attention. Neither does he want to play too bad a game to make his real move obvious. Soon he starts sweating.After some time, the master stops the game. “The first lesson is over”, he tells the prince.“You learnt two things today, compassion and concentration.Indeed we need both concentration and compassion to lead our life successfully.


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