You dropped your rock

There is an old Zen story about a king whose people had grown soft and entitled. Dissatisfied with this state of affairs, he hoped to teach them a lesson. His plan was simple: He would place a large boulder in the middle of the main road, completely blocking entry into the city. He would then hide nearby and observer their reactions.

rock.jpg

How would they respond? Would they band together to remove it? Or would they get discouraged, quit and return home?

With growing disappointment, the king watched as subject after subject came to this impediment and turned away. Or at best, tried half-heartedly before giving up. Many openly complained or cursed the king or fortune or bemoaned the inconvenience, but none managed to do anything about it.

After several days, a lone peasant came along on his way into town. He did not turn away. Instead he strained and strained, trying to push it out of the way. Then an idea came to him: He scrambled into the woods to find something he could use for leverage. Finally, he returned with a large branch he had crafted into a lever and deployed it to dislodge the massive rock from the road.

Beneath the rock were a purse of gold coins and a note from the king which said”

‘The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition’.

-Holiday. Ryan. The Obstacle is the way, Profile Penguin, 1994

[Jo] I love cute parables. Especially the Zen ones that combine physics and philosophy and that end well for the protagonist. The ones where they fail and are eaten by bears are, eh… less appealing somehow. Unless of course you have an ursine disposition and are feeling a might peckish.

I also love Ryan Holiday. Given the opportunity I would keep him in a box next to my bed. With sufficient air holes poked into the lid (obviously), a dead Ryan Holiday serves no-one…