In Thomas Merton’s compilation of Chaung Tzu’s teachings in “The Way of Chuang Tzu” there is a small, yet poignant lesson that really speaks to the “ambition” in me that sometimes puts me in hot pursuit of winning instead of the constant journey of joy and appreciation found in every step along the way. It’s entitled The Need to Win:
When an archer is shooting for nothing
He has all his skill.
If he shoots for a brass buckle
He is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind
Or sees two targets—
He is out of his mind!
His skill has not changed. But the prize
Divides him. He cares.
He thinks more of winning
Than of shooting—
And the need to win
Drains him of power.
I think that there’s a fine line between doing something “for the love of doing it” and for “the results of doing it.” One need not have to choose a side, but I can see how going too far in one direction can cause problems.
For instance, doing something only for money may, in fact, bring you a lot of money… but perhaps at the expense of true joy and happiness. Or on the other hand, doing something just for the “love of it” may bring about a deepness and serenity, but you may perhaps starve and be homeless, especially in this current economic climate. Just understanding this, alone, is enough to keep someone in perfect harmony in every pursuit of life.
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