The Woodcarver

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand of precious wood,
When it was finished, All who saw it were astounded,
They said it must be the work of spirits.
The Prince of Lai said to the master carver - “What is your secret?”?
Khing replied, “I am only a workman: I have no secret.
There is only this: When I began to think about the work you commanded,
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it on trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set my heart at rest,
After three days fasting, I had forgotten praise or criticism,
After seven days, I had forgotten my body with all its limbs.
By this time all thought of your Highness and of the court had faded away,
All that might distract me from the work had vanished,
I was collected in the single thought of the bell-stand.
Then I went to the forest to see the trees in their own natural state,
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand and begin,
If I had not met this particular tree there would have been no bell stand at all.
What happened?
My own collected thoughts encountered the hidden potential in the wood:
From this live encounter came the work which you ascribe to the spirits.
Far from a master, can’t even call myself an apprentice,
There ain’t no teacher, other than life.
What does it seem to be telling?
To practice – Patience and Virtue!
As a piece of wood is shaped, it reminds me, that another higher hand is shaping me,
Sometimes there are knots in the wood, gentle rubbing is of no good.
Stone is dropped and axe picked up, Whack! Off goes the part that’s holding up,
Gentle tapping would also have worked and taught about the nature of the knot.
Whose the wood and whose the carver, very difficult to figure.
Yet sitting down is a good way to find out.

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