You Are What You Practice
Different exercises make us stronger, faster, smarter.
But repeating some habits can be counter productive.
An excerpt from Prem Rawat’s address in Nagoya, Japan.
How can a human being choose compassion over hatred? How can a human being choose love; how can a human being choose wisdom over ignorance? How can a human being choose light over darkness? How?
I have a story—it’s also in the book that has come out. And this story is about an archer. He goes from town to town, displaying his skill of his archery. And he’s very good, very good. He picks up an arrow and sends it, and it hits the target right in the bullseye. Next arrow whoosh—tears the first arrow apart.
People come from the villages, all stand there and clap, applaud him. And of course, this makes the archer feel very good.
One day he is exhibiting his skill, and all of a sudden everybody is clapping, applauding, “Wow, this is amazing! This is amazing!”—and he hears somebody singing at the top of their voice, singing, “It’s only a matter of practice.” Singing! “It is only a matter of practice.”
He did not like that. He’d like to think that he was the best! And it was special for him—and it wasn’t just a matter of practice, but it was him!
So, after the show was over, he went looking for who was singing, “It’s only a matter of practice.” So he goes, and he sees this man sitting there with two very large pots, very large clay pots full of oil in the front, in the back. A pole. And he says, “Were you singing?” And he goes, “Yes. I was singing.”
“So what do you mean, it’s a matter of practice? Don’t you see how many people come to see me? They come; they applaud. I am so special; I am…I am so good.” And he said, “Look. You are good at archery because you practice. Let me show you something that I practice.”
So he picked up a big clay pot of oil, took an empty bottle, put it down; picked up the big clay pot and poured oil from the big clay pot through the neck of the bottle and filled the bottle without dropping a drop. Then he said to the archer…he said, “Now, you try it.”
The archer said, “I understand. I could not do that. You practice pouring oil, and you are good at it. I practice archery; I am good at it.”
So my question is this: “What are you good at?” If you practice kindness, you will become good at kindness. If you practice compassion, you will become good at compassion. If you practice hate, you will become good at hate. What do you practice?
How long does it take you to become angry? How long does it take you to become disappointed? How long does it take you to lose hope? How long does it take you to doubt? Because if you do this, then this is what you’re practicing.
And more you practice, the better you will get. The better you get at the wrong thing, you will not realize your potential.
Today is your day. You can be kind. Today, you can live with completeness, with fullness. Today, you can live with understanding. Today, you can feel alive.
– Prem Rawat