The old man came out of his cave, took the young man with him and he said, “The moment I saw you coming with your bow and with your arrows, I knew that you were an amateur because the real master does not need these things. Have you not heard the ancient saying: when a master reaches to his ultimate genius, if he is an archer he throws away his bow and his arrows; if he is a musician he throws away his musical instruments; if he is a painter he throws away his brushes, his canvases.”
He said, “I have heard it, but I have never understood it.”
The old man said, “Now you have come to the place where you will understand it. Come with me.”
There was a rock protruding into the valley, and the valley was thousands of feet deep. If you fell from the rock there was no possibility of your being alive; in fact you could not even be found as a whole body, you would be scattered. It was a dangerous valley.
The old man went onto the protruding rock; the young man was standing there trembling – he was not going onto the rock. The old man was going and the young man was trembling. The old man said, “Stop that trembling. That is not the sign of a master archer.” And the old man went to the very end of the rock, standing with half of his feet off the edge of the rock. He was standing there and he said to the young man, “Now you come and stand by my side.”
The young man took one step, two steps – and then fell flat, trembling, everything whirling. He said, “You have to forgive me. I cannot come where you are standing. Just a little mistake, a little breeze of wind, a little forgetfulness and you are gone forever! I have come here to meet you, not to commit suicide. I cannot believe how you are standing there.”
The old man said, “That’s what archery brings to a man – an untrembling heart, a non-moving mind. Now I do not need the bow and the arrows. I know that you have looked around in my cave and I have seen your subtle smile, ‘How can this man be an archer?’ Now I will show you my archery.”
He looked up and there were nine birds flying – and as he looked up all the nine birds fell down on the earth. He said, “If you are absolutely immobile inside, even your eyes are enough; arrows are not needed. So go back, practice archery. Championship is far away. While I am alive, never think again of championship – although I am not a competitor. Even if you were declared champion I would not have bothered to object – who cares? Your championships, your titles are children’s games.
“But the old man in the palace knows me. Now as long as I am living you cannot be a champion; you can be a champion if you really go deeper into archery, practice. And only I can make you a champion, not the king. What does he know about archery? So tell him, ‘You don’t have any authority.’ I will come in the right time if I am alive. Or I will send somebody, or I will make some arrangement, even if I am dead.”
Ten years passed and the old man was dying. He called his son from the village down in the plains and told him – he was also very old – “Go to this certain archer and just report to me the situation.”