Learning to Swim

“What advice would you give a young person?”

I would relay a piece of advice that has made all the difference to me in my life. While studying in a monastery in Japan I had the chance to ask the Abbot of the monastery, an enlightened monk, a single question. As I sat in front of him I asked what I felt to be the most pertinent question at the moment in my life: “How could I help people if I spent all my time meditating in a monastery? Am I not obliged to do something significant having come from the USA and honored with a good education? Is it not my duty to work hard, give back, and try to make the world a better place? If I pursue enlightenment through meditation, is that not selfish?” He answered me with a story, “You are trying too hard. You are like a young child thrown into water for the first time; you are trying to swim by splashing and grabbing, reaching out for solid ground. But to swim, all you need to do is stop, take a deep breath, and float. Then you will be swimming.“ Patience. I would tell a young person to be patient, and the universe will provide.

Think about things in the long-term.  Too often we make decisions based on our immediate perception, forsaking long-term benefits for short-term gains, whether it be education, health, or the environment. Be patient and make decisions that will align the short-term with the long-term.

Life is like a piece of art, each experience is a layer of paint, and each moment contributes to the overall story. Be patient, stop talking and listen to the world around you, and you will find your way.


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