The expert

Are we honest with ourselves? I mean, we—you know, I tell that story about the guy who’s an archer, and he goes from village to village exhibiting his, you know, archery. And as he goes, people gather and they applaud, and so on—this is one of my favorite stories. So, you know, they all applaud, and everybody’s, you know, “Yay, great guy!” And he—you know, this really, really inflates his ego.

And one day while he’s doing this exhibition, he hears a guy all the way from the back going, “Ah, it’s only a matter of practice.” So this really irks him. So he shoots another arrow, and bla-bla-bla, and everybody claps, and, “Eh, it’s only a matter of practice.”

So after this exhibition is over, he goes looking for this guy; he wants to have a few words with him. And so he finds him. And there’s this oil salesman, a poor guy sitting in the corner—and he’s got a big bamboo pole with two big pots on either end, and a few empty bottles, and he’s just sitting there….

And the guy goes, “Hey, are you the guy who, every time I shoot an arrow and I get the bullseye, you’re the one who keeps saying, ‘Eh, it’s just a matter of practice’?” And he looks up at him and he goes, “Yeah, it’s me.”

And he says, “How dare you? Don’t you know who I am? I’m this expert guy. People come from miles to watch how good I am! And here you are; you just sell oil, and you sit there and you go, ‘It’s just a matter of practice’—so, what do you mean, it’s a matter of practice?”

So the oil salesman said, “Okay, let me show you.” So he picked up one of the big pots full of oil, took an empty bottle, put it down; lifted the pot—without spilling a drop, poured the oil from the big pot through the neck of the bottle and filled the bottle—without spilling a drop. He looked at the archer and he said, “Now, you try.” And the archer says, “I can’t. I’ll spill everywhere.”

So, after I tell that story, I ask my audience, “What do you think of that story? You like it?” It’s a matter of practice. He is good at archery because he practices it; he’s really good at pouring the oil because he practices it. You…you concur?

What are you good at? And the only reason why I asked that is because you practice it. Just.this is reverse engineering—whatever you’re good at, you practice it a lot. Are you good at getting angry?

How long does it take you to get angry? You’re expert! You must practice it a lot. How about getting confused?  How long does it take you to get confused? How long does it take you to lose hope? How long does it take you to lose clarity? How long does it take you to lose your focus? So, this is what you practice?

You don’t have to answer that question. You know the answer; that is sufficient. So maybe now, you want to change your strategy and practice something positive in your life: being aware!

– Prem Rawat