“Its like chopping down a huge tree of immense girth. You won’t accomplish it with one swing of your axe. If you keep chopping away at it, though, and do not let up, eventually, wether it wants to or not, it will suddenly topple down. When that time comes, you could round up everyone you could find and pay them to hold the tree up, but they wouldn’t be able to do it. It would still come crashing to the ground… But if the woodcutter stopped after one or two strokes of his axe to ask the third son of Mr. Chang, ‘Why doesn’t this tree fall?’ And after three or four more strokes stopped again to ask the fourth son of Mr. Li, ‘Why doesn’t this tree fall?’ he would never succeed in felling the tree. It is no different for someone practicing the Way.”
~ Zen Master Hakuin.
This is a wonderful quote for anyone practicing ‘the Way’, or, ‘a Way’. What you soon realise after walking any path for a certain number of days, weeks, years is that nothing miraculous occurs. No life changing experiences, no inner tranquility which the books and teachers speak of, no enlightening meditations. But, as the above quote tells us so very clearly, ‘You won’t accomplish it with one swing of your axe!’
‘If you keep chopping away at it, though, and do not let up, eventually, wether it wants to or not, it will suddenly topple down.’ This sudden toppling down which Hakuin is speaking of is a most evasive thing in the Western world! We want results right now, with one swing of our axe. “I’ve been meditating for six months now. Why am I not enlightened?” Is something one may ponder as time passes us by.
Practice a Way! The Way, your Way, my Way, her Way, his Way or even their Way.. But do not practice it with thoughts about the results coming from your efforts. Do not think of felling the tree. Just continue ‘chopping away’, hour after hour, day after day, purely because you love to chop at ‘your tree’. And, ‘eventually, wether it wants to or not, it will suddenly topple down.’
This will be unmistakable.