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Merchant, Priest, Horsefly

I was looking into one of my favorite martial arts books this morning and rediscovered this passage, which I’d bookmarked years ago:

“There is a story of a very wealthy and powerful merchant who came to visit a priest, to ask his advice abaout the many problems he was having with this business and his personal life. The merchant stat there and complained for hours while the priest sat quietly and listened. After a while, the merchant noticed that a horsefly trying to escape through a window had caught the attention of the priest, who no longer seemed interested in his problems. Sarcastically, the merchant commented that the tiny horsefly seemed more important than himself, a rich and mighty merchant. The priest looked up and replied: “How interesting! This horsefly has managed to fly into my temple and now he cannot escape. All he can do is keep trying to fly through the thin rice paper window, but even the paper is too strong and holds him back. If the horsefly continues to fight against the paper, it will eventually die. What is sad is that there are plenty of openings in my poor temple, and the horsefly can escape through any number of holes, yet he continues at just this one spot, which is impossible for him. How sad!” When the merchant heard this, he stopped complaining.”

This story is from Kensho Furuya’s excellent Kodo: Ancient Ways (1996, Black Belt Books/Ohara Publications).

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