Chapter 29: When the Archer Is Perfect
When you leave the hall every day, looking at all of us, I feel so bathed and soaked in your love and radiance. When you were dancing with us, I experienced the most beautiful, joyful, and ecstatic moments with you. I could not imagine there could ever be more. But now, when you gently walk out, facing us, the feeling inside of me is so vast, so much more than anything before, that I feel totally overwhelmed by precious lovingness. Could you explain what is happening?
There is a music which has no sounds, and there is a dance which has no movement. They are the highest expressions of grace.
While dancing, singing, rejoicing, you were feeling ecstatic, and you could not have believed that anything more is possible. Now, you are experiencing still the same dance, just the movements have been taken out, the same music, only the sounds have been dropped. It is a purification of the ecstasy. That’s why you feel something higher is being experienced.
I have always loved a Chinese story about an archer who was the greatest archer in the whole land. He went to the emperor saying that the whole country should be made aware that if anybody wants to contest with him, he’s available. “If nobody turns up, then you have to declare me the champion of archery.” The emperor knew the man, and he knew his art, his archery, and he knew there was nobody else who could even come close to him. His art was perfect; he never missed a target. So the emperor was willing to declare him the champion of archery in the whole land of China.
Just at that moment, his old prime minister prevented him saying, “Wait a minute, because I know a man who lives far away in the mountains. Unless this archer goes to that old man, and that old man certifies that he should be declared the champion, you should wait. You should not be in a hurry, because that old man is not only the champion of this land, he is the champion of the whole world, although he’s a non-competitive man, non-ambitious, and people don’t know about him. Send this archer first to get a certificate from that old man.” And he gave the directions where the old man would be found.
The archer could not believe that anyone could be better; he was one hundred percent successful in hitting the bulls eye exactly in the middle, he never missed the target. It was inconceivable for him that anybody could be a better archer! But there was no way.. The emperor told him to go to the mountains, and bring a certificate.
It was a difficult journey. The old man lived on a very high peak of the mountain, alone. He was really very old, almost ancient, and he had no bow, no arrows. He was just sitting under a tree. The archer asked, “Are you the man who is the greatest archer in the world?”
The old man said, “Perhaps, because on this mountain nobody else lives. But I can’t be certain because I have never been competitive. As far as archery is concerned, for twenty years I have not touched the bow, have not seen the arrows. In fact, I have lost track where they are. But what is the problem? Why have you traveled so far?”