Thursday, August 27, 2009








Here's a retelling of this story in English:

Once upon a time two monks lived in Sichuan Province. One monk was
poor, the other rich. One day the poor monk told the rich one, "I want
to go to the South Sea." "But how, by what transportation?" the rich
monk asked. "All I need are one bottle and one bowl," the poor monk
said. The rich monk replied, "For years I have been planning to rent a
boat to go there, but I still have not been able to go. What makes you
think you can go there?"

A year later the two monks met again after the poor monk returned from
the South Sea. He told the rich monk about his trip. The rich monk
felt very ashamed.

The famous Qing Dynasty literati Peng Duanshu told the above story in
his work "On learning, to my children." His story reveals a principle:

There are no easy or hard things in the world. As long as you are
making the effort, the hard things can become easy. If you don't take
any action, then the easiest things can be hard. The same is true in
learning. If you really study, then even the most challenging subject
can become easy. On the other hand, if you don't want to study, then
even the easiest assignment becomes difficult. If one relies on his
own intellect and educational background but refuses to study more,
then the person will destroy his future. Those who refused to be
discouraged by their own average intelligence and capability and
continued to learn did obtain success through their own efforts.

I am deeply touched by this story. When dealing with issues, if we
don't take action, but focus our effort on looking for "shortcuts" or
we postpone our action by saying, "Wait until tomorrow," or "I will do
it later," we are no different from the rich monk who waited for years
to rent a boat. As the old poem "Tomorrow Song" says, "Tomorrow and
tomorrow; how many tomorrows are there anyway? If one always waits for
tomorrow to do his work, then he accomplishes nothing in his life

When we walk, we take a step at a time. Every step leads us forward.
All big things begin from little things. We achieve success through
gradual accumulation of effort. If we only want to score big but
ignore the little things then we will eventually get nowhere, like the
rich monk.