Archery Champion and Zen master
Solar Plexus: For arrogance
Brow Chakra: For understanding the importance of stilling one mind
The Limiting stress: There is a great difference between being good, even the best and not fall into the trap of becoming arrogant. Certain people in the pursue of becoming better or best that they can become also become arrogant. To become excellent at any given task, more is needed than just skill. What is needed is stillness of mind. Working with arrogance is often associated with the Solar Plexus Chakra while working on stillness of the mind is more associated with the Brow Chakra. The Story of the Archer Champion and the Zen Master can be used for either purpose. When we want to draw attention to the dangers of arrogance, or to the importance of stilling one’s mind. This would be a great metaphor to consider.
The story: the story of the Archery Champion takes place in a land where archery is revered. Even the king himself is a great archer. Many competitions are organized in local towns to see who the best archer is. On this particular year there is a great buzz, a young man that not many people know is winning all the local competitions. So, when the King announces the main event for the year many folks come to the city to see this new rising star.
Although the young man is excellent, one could say even extraordinary with bow and arrows, he has a flaw. Often when he competes, he laughs at the efforts of his competitors. He sometimes holds the bow in his right hand and other times left hand, just to show how good he is. Often when he makes a difficult shot and hits the bullseye, he turns to his competitor and in a descending voice says, “beat that if you can”. On the day of the great competition, it is soon apparent that he is the best archer by a long way. In the finals he even looks away from the target, stares at his last competitor and releases the arrow, hitting the centre of the target. He finishes that with a smirk and says out loud so everyone can hear, haven’t seen you do a shot like that all day, beat that if you can.
When he wins, the King announces him the champion of the city. However, the young man feels that this is not enough, he quickly says out loud I really should be pronounced the champion of the land. The king also a good archer himself, smiles and says but how could that be, not all the archers of the land come and compete. The man considers this and quickly replies, that’s because they knew I will be competing this year and did not want to test their skills in fear of losing. The King considers and says to the man “Travel to the mountains and find the Zen monks and see if they will compete with you. If they say you are the best archer of the land, I will award you that title.” The man starts at once but requests a scribe so the story of how he has beaten the Zen monks can be written and published all around the land.
When he arrives at the monastery he impatiently knocks on the great door and asks to be introduced to the master archer. The Zen monk says they don’t have one. The man demands to know who out of the monks is the best archer, but again the Zen monk says how would we know this, they of course never compete just use the bow and arrow for hunting. Eventually an older monk asks the man what he would like. He is quickly answered by the man that his on quest from the king himself to prof that he is the best
archer of the land (under his breath he says “and better than any old monk”). The monk who has known the King for many decades just smiles and encourages the man to show him his skill. The target is quickly set up and from 20 yards the young man shoots an arrow. It hits the center of the target, but then he draws again, and his second arrow splits the first arrow. He triumphantly smiles and says, “beat that old man”.
The monk smiles takes up a bow and quiver of arrows and begins to walk up the mountain on a narrow path. The young man follows but quickly tells his scribe to note that the Zen monk did not want to shoot at the target. They walked for around 30 minutes and found themselves on top of a peak. This was next to a huge ravine, where the wind blew extra strong. You could feel the water and moisture in the air, from the enormous waterfall close by. Over the ravine a great old tree has fallen, it looked rotten, covered by slippery moss and dripping with water. The Zen monk gently stepped out on to the log, walked 20m into the middle of the ravine, looked around pointed to a branch of a pine tree and drew his bow. Some 75 yards away was a pine branch with few small pine cones. As he released the arrow, the young man could see that the shoot will miss, however as the arrow flew the wind of the ravine started to take the arrow and it began to curve. In the last possible moment the arrow turned and hit the middle of the three pine cones. The Zen monk smiled, walked back and moved out of the way. The young man was horrified, he has never seen a shot like that before, he tried to step out on to the log, but his mind began to show him his certain death, he began to tremble, and his knees began to buckle. After a while he gave up shaking, he could not even walk out onto the log.
“You have great skill with your bow” said the master “but little skill with the mind that lets the arrow loose.”
Key points to remember the story:
- Archery is revered in this land
- New young archer is on the scene
- He wins every completion
- He is arrogant, often smirking at competitors
- He says thinks like “beat that if you can”
- He wins the main completion
- King wants to crown him as champion of the city
- This is not enough he wanted to be champion of the land
- King send him to test his skills against Zen monks
- Young man wants to challenge the monks
- He does a great shot
- Zen monk takes him into the pine forest
- They arrive at a ravine over which is a rotten log
- Zen monks walks out and hits his target
- The young man can’t even walk out onto the log
- The Zen monk says you have great skill with your bow But little skill with the mind that lets the arrow
Emphasis of the Story:
This story would be ideal for either people that need to reflect on arrogance or where they have not understood that being skillful at anything is only half the story. The importance of having a still mind in being able to execute any task is also an important component of this story.
Potential Questions for the client
- What do you think the Zen master meant when he said, “you have great skills with your bow … but little skill with the mind that lets the arrow loose”?
- Why did the Young man want scribe to accompany him when they went to see the Zen monks?
- What was the greatest weakness of the champion?