Eventually, Whether It Wants to or Not…

I’m sitting between a lady in a turquoise cardigan and bald Steve Jobs at Billund airport. We’re coming back to England today, after three weeks in Viborg, Denmark.

I don’t have much time – we’ll be boarding soon and on the plane I’ve decided that I’m going to either read East of Eden or listen to the Chili Peppers but definitely not both. So here is a passage that has meant a lot to me since I first came across it in a Robert Greene book eight years ago:

It’s like chopping down a huge tree of immense girth. You won’t accomplish it with one swing of your axe. If you keep chopping away at it, though, and do not let up, eventually, whether it wants to or not, it will suddenly topple down.

When that time comes, you could round up everyone you could find and pay them to hold the tree up, but they wouldn’t be able to do it. It would still come crashing to the ground…

But if the woodcutter stopped after one or two strokes of his axe to ask the third son of Mr. Chang, ‘Why doesn’t this tree fall?’ And after three or four more strokes stopped again to ask the fourth son of Mr. Li, ‘Why doesn’t this tree fall?’ he would never succeed in felling the tree.

It is no different for someone practicing the Way.

Zen Master Hakuin (1686 – 1769)

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