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Faith and Respect

I’ll always remember the story about faith and respect told to me by my first Taekwon-Do instructor, Mr Sang Ki Eun, then of Rockford, Illinois. I also think he was trying to teach me about effective decision-making, as well. It’s an old Zen story about two monks strolling through the forest near their monastery one day. Suddenly…a snarling Bengal tiger leaped into their path, blocking their way and appearing ready to attack. Although surprised, the elder monk remained calm in the face of this impending disaster. He whispered to the younger monk, “You must merely have faith and we will emerge from this alive and well,” he assured the young man. “We are holy men of God and he shall not allow us to be harmed by this tiger.” The younger monk surveyed the situation, taking particular notice of the tiger’s attitude and promptly spun on his heels and took off running as fast as he could. The old monk seeing this also took off running and when they had finally reached a safe distance and the old monk had caught up to the young monk, he demanded “Have you no faith? You didn’t have to run away! God would have kept us safe from danger. He has complete control over that tiger.” “I know He does…” his young companion replied, “…but why should I bother God about that tiger when He gave me two legs that can run so fast?” Growing… striving… accomplishing… taking care of your own needs, doesn’t imply a lack of faith…it simply means that you respect the universe enough not to demand that it do for you what you are unwilling to put forth the effort to do for yourself. At this very basic level it shows respect for your faith, so that it is not merely wishful thinking. ~ Mack Newton

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