A young man decided to visit a country known for its uniquely gifted artists. Over the last few years a growing sense of feeling incomplete had stalked him, and the hope behind his journey was to find someone, something, to help him release the great, but still latent forces he knew lived in his heart.
After settling in at a small hostel, he went walking through an expansive outdoor bazaar where hundreds of artisans displayed their works. However, everything seemed commonplace; just another dead-end. What now?
He kept walking, leaving the noisy bazaar far behind him. And that’s when his ear caught a light tapping sound from the other side of an old wooden fence. Coming upon an open gate, he peered inside.
A young woman was seated in an open courtyard surrounded by various stone sculptures of wild animals. Although these creations were in various stages of completion, they already exuded a remarkable presence.
Just then the young lady stood up, and pulling a little hammer out of her apron pocket, she walked toward a large stone that was perched on a work pedestal.
After careful examination of one small area she rapped it – just once –with her small hammer. She used so little force, he felt sorry for her timidity. Surely, he thought, she must be a novice; but his eyes couldn’t believe what happened next.
Suddenly dozens of small pieces of stone broke away. At first he thought she made a mistake and had cracked the whole stone; a moment later he knew otherwise. She had not ruined the stone; instead, she had released it secret character.
With that one blow she had not only uncovered a beautiful white marble-like material, but had shaped it to resemble the graceful neck of a great swan. He was stunned. What magic was this? He longed to know.
"Please forgive me,"he said, entering the courtyard, "but how in the world did you do that with a single blow from your tiny hammer?"
"Oh,"she laughed. "I’m guessing you’ve only been there for the last few minutes. Before you began watching me I had delivered hundreds of similar small blows to the exact same spot on that stone. You saw the result of many days of careful work coupled with a special kind of quiet consideration.
"That’s how all great things are achieved…consistent attention coupled with persistent effort - a little bit at a time - until the right time comes when that work is rewarded. Then nothing can stand in the way of what must be released. The practice of this knowledge, in whatever one intends to do, must produce a subsequent revelation that is the heart of liberation itself.”
As they shared a smile and said goodbye, the young man knew he had learned an important secret: With consistent attention and persistent effort you can release whatever now stands between you and the freedom for which your heart seeks.
(Excerpted from Letting Go... A Little Bit At A Time, Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd., 2008)