A long time ago there were many children waiting outside the Shaolin Temple hoping to be chosen to learn the mysteries within. No one outside really knew what went on within the temple walls but many rumors persisted and stories were being spread amongst the public. On this particular morning, a child named Tai Gui had been sent by his parents in hope that he would be chosen. The gate finally opened up and the Masters came out to look over the eager children to see if any were worthy of their knowledge. One Master observed Tai Gui and decided to take him on as a student monk. Tai Gui was beside himself as he continually bowed to show his gratitude toward his new Master as he followed him into the great temple. He was immediately initiated into his new role beginning with the shaving of his head, was cleaned up, and sent to his Master to be taught the mystical fighting skills he had heard so much about. Upon arriving at his Master’s quarters, he was soon to be tasked doing something far different than what he had expected. His Master took him out onto the grounds and instructed him to fill two buckets with water and then pour it into this large cauldron until it was full. He was then to slap the water out of this vessel with the palms of his hands alternating between left and right until the cauldron was empty. He was then to fill it again and do the same thing over and over. This went on for two whole years, all day, every day, nonstop. Now during this time, Tai Gui saw many other students learning strange and foreign fighting movements, exactly what he had so eagerly desired to learn, yet here he was endlessly carrying out this meaningless and frustrating task day in and day out. After two years, the students were allowed to go visit their families but Tai Gui felt humiliated at the thought of having to tell his family and friends what he had been doing. The others had so many great stories about the mysterious fighting techniques they were learning but what was he to say? Well, when he got home, the house was full of his family and friends all asking him what he had learned. They were so excited and eager to hear about his experiences. They were relentless out of their need to know but what could he say? He later found himself standing at a table, the kind of table they made back then out of very thick, hard wood, kind of like a butcher’s table, when yet another question about what he had learned caused him to lose his temper. He angrily replyied,” I have learned NOTHING!!!!!”, as he violently came down with his right hand striking the top of the table. This thick, heavy, table instantly cracked, splintered, and fell into pieces right before their eyes! Everyone gasp in shock at what they had just seen, and were whispering, “the stories are true, they’re really true!” as they looked at him in awe. Tai Gui looked down at the broken pieces of this strong, heavy table and in that moment, he understood that these last two years were far from meaningless but had made him powerful beyond his understanding. He returned to the temple a very changed young man knowing and feeling the enormous rewards from this task he had so despised. It had not been a complete waste of time!
Lessons come in many forms, in many different settings, and often seem silly and a waste of valuable time. Never make the mistake of passing on a powerful and immensely rewarding lesson because you think it has no merit or benefit. It just may be the most important lesson you will ever learn!
Note: This is a true story that was recounted on The History Channel several years ago. This was just one of several incredible stories recorded a long time ago at the Shaolin Temple in Henan Provence, China. Shaolin Buddhist Priests were men of peace who were highly educated in medicine, science, history, and the literary arts. They were also highly trained in many styles of martial arts such as Northern Shaolin Long Fist Kung Fu, Southern White Crane, and possibly, Tai Chi Chuan. Man to man, there is absolutely no doubt to me that these humble priests were the most powerful warriors to ever walk this earth!