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Master your mind
By Stuart Kerner

In the days when archers were crucial warriors in battle, those who were gifted at archery were held in great esteem. One such student of archery became so skilled that he could shoot an arrow into a tree and then with his next shot split that arrow in two. Unfortunately this young man became very conceited and bragged that he was now better than the old master archer who had taught him his art.

The time came when his master invited the young student to go with him on a journey through a forest. The student thought nothing of this, and the expedition proceeded without any major incidents. That is, until they reached a great abyss. Across this vast hole lay a tree which had been felled to act as a bridge. Without another word the old master strode to middle of the tree trunk. He took out his bow and sent an arrow straight into a ground on the opposite side of the chasm, before following it with another that split the first in two.

As the old man walked back to his young pupil he said, ‘It’s now your turn to do the same.’

The young man carefully climbed on to the trunk and cautiously moved towards the centre of the great log. Understandably the student was genuinely scared and began to shake. He realized that one false move would result in him falling to certain death. As he took up his bow he could not keep his mind on the task in hand and as he drew the string back he stumbled, sending the arrow high in the air, completely missing the target. Close to tears the young man called to his teacher, ‘Please help me – I’m going to fall!’

The aging master moved along the tree trunk, took the young man’s hand and guided him back to the safety of the forest floor. As they made their way back to their village not a word was uttered between them. All of the young man’s previous pride had disappeared and he was lost in his own thoughts of failure. This day had taught him the most important lesson for he now understood that to truly master his art it was not enough to control his bow and arrow, he had also to learn how to control his mind.

It is not enough to have knowledge, we must also have wisdom. Our skills are as nothing if we cannot first control our own minds.


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