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Stopping ripples

The Master was sitting by a pond one day when a young man, a troubled look upon his face, approached him. "Much has gone wrong, Master," he said. "and everything I do makes things worse."

"Please sit down," the Master invited, patting the ground next to him, and the young man sat down.

"Now, please find a small stone and throw it into the pond." said the Master. Searching around him, the young man grabbed a pebble and threw it as far as he could.

"Tell me what you see," the Master instructed. Straining his eyes to not miss a single detail, the man looked at the water's surface. "I see ripples."

"Where did the ripples come from?"

"From the pebble I threw in the pond, Master."

"Please reach your hand into the water and stop the ripples," the Master asked. The young man stuck his hand in the water as a ripple neared.

"Were you able to stop the ripples with your hands?" the Master asked.

"No, of course not. It only caused more."

"Could you have stopped the ripples, then?"

"No, Master."

"What if you had stopped the pebble from entering the water to begin with?" The Master looked deeply into the young man's eyes, as a stone into water. "Next time you are unhappy with your life, catch the stone before it hits the water. Do not spend time trying to undo what you have done. Rather, change what you are going to do before you do it."

 

***

 

~Zen story~

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