Today, I am going to tell you a tale that was told to me when I was a child. Since, a considerable amount of time has passed between my hearing the tale and writing it now, I have made up the parts that I have forgotten. So, here goes:
There was once a man who became obsessed with doing something that would etch his name in eternity. A friend told him that the only way to do it was to climb Mount Sumeru, and write his name on the holy stone there. He made a few inquiries and found that it was indeed a formidable challenge, and one that very few had attempted or achieved.
Not one to waste time, the man immediately began his preparations to climb Mount Sumeru. He worked on his fitness and his mountaineering skills and pretty soon he was ready to attempt the climb. The climb was a lonely one, but the man exulted in the solitude. He felt that he was doing something special, and that now nothing could stop him from being remembered for all time to come.
In time – it was ten days or fifteen, doesn’t really matter – he could see the top of the mountain and even though he was tired, he picked up pace.
Well, you can imagine his disappointment when he saw an ascetic sitting on a rock at the top of the mountain. The ascetic seemed to be lost in meditation. With his ego pricked and his pride in his achievement somewhat deflated, he approached the ascetic, and asked if there were a lot of people who had come up to the mountain. The ascetic said that he had been there a long time and only a few people had actually come up in that time. Feeling a bit vindicated, the man asked the ascetic about the holy stone. The ascetic pointed towards a rock that was jutting out of the mountain top, as if reaching for the sky. As the man started towards the rock, the ascetic told him that since there was not enough space left on the stone, he would have to rub out a name to make space for his name.
The man could not find the courage to rub out any name as he finally realised that there was no such thing as etching one’s name in eternity.
The moral of the story, for me, is that however good you may be at something in life, someone better is just around the corner. Trying to make a name for oneself is important, but to become obsessed with that one goal is unhealthy and useless. Of course, you have to compete and beat the competition. But that should not become the guiding principle. The guiding principle should always be humility and becoming the best you can be.
Wouldn’t you agree?