When Confucius was on his way to Ch'u, he passed through a forest where he saw a hunchback catching cicadas with a sticky pole as easily as though he were grabbing them with his hand.One of the "secrets" for success in so many endeavors is to concentrate without focusing on the need to concentrate. For example, when trying to meditate, it doesn't really work if you spend all your time telling yourself, "I must keep my mind clear. I must keep my mind clear" because, of course, your mind isn't clear!
Confucius said, "What skill you have! Is there a special way to this?"
"I have a way," said the hunchback. "For the first five or six months I practice balancing two balls on top of each other on the end of the pole and, if they don't fall off, I know I will lose very few cicadas. Then I balance three balls and, if they don't fall off, I know I'll lose only one cicada in ten. Then I balance five balls and, if they don't fall off, I know it will be as easy as grabbing them with my hand. I hold my body like a stiff tree trunk and use my arm like an old dry limb. No matter how huge heaven and earth, or how numerous the ten thousand things, I'm aware of nothing but cicada wings. Not wavering, not tipping, not letting any of the other ten thousand things take the place of those cicada wings - how can I help but succeed?"
Confucius turned to his disciples and said, "He keeps his will undivided and concentrates his spirit - that would serve to describe our hunchback gentleman here, would it not?"
~ Burton Watson translation ~
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