Posted on May 17, 2012

Ip Man knew it.

it’s important to be neutral; striving not to strive.

So there was this young man who came to a Buddhist monastery and asked the abbot there how long it would take him to get enlightened. The abbot replied that it would take him about 50 years of study and pratice.

So the young man said “what if I work twice as hard as the rest of the monks here?”.

“then it will take you about 100 years of study and practice.”

“so what if I put even more effort into it and I work three time as much as all the monks here?”

“then you may never attain enlightnement in your lifetime.”

it is different to want something and to do something.

if the purpose of your practice is to attain something because you want it, because you’re attached to the idea of having this skill or this ability, then you’re practicing with your mind in the objective and not in the practice itself.

hence “striving not to strive” – practice should be done with the mind set on the practice you’re doing at that moment, at that time, and not in the future.

Ajahn Brahm, an actual Buddhist monk, always says:

the only time you can influence your future, is in your present.

And this is the idea behind that story – the only time you can influence the mastery of a certain skill, is when you’re practising with your mind in your practice. If my mind is in the objective, if my mind is in what I want to attain with my practice, then my practice will be impaired.

this has been true for Buddhists for 2500 years. It has been true for Kung Fu practicioners for about 2000 years.

And it is true today when I’m improving my programming skills or when I’m learning German.