Story: Swimology

Story: Swimology

Sep 01

A learned scholar set forth on a long and difficult sea journey. Desiring to impress the crew with the depth of his learning, he would stop and question the simple sailors as they went about their duties. “Tell me my good man,” he would ask a sailor, “have you studied philosophy?” The sailor would answer, “Oh no, I’m just a simple sailor. I only know how to sail this ship from one shore to the other.” The scholar would reply, “You poor man, you have wasted half your life.” The following day he would again question the sailor. “Have you studied geometry, my good man?” The sailor would reply again, “No, I’m sorry, Sir. I just rig the sails and steer the ship.” The scholar again would shake his head in despair and say only, “You poor fellow, dwelling in ignorance, you are wasting much of your life.” Day after day the questions would go on, “Have you studied anthropology, zoology, psychology?” The sailor could only shake his head in denial.

One night the ship foundered in a storm. The scholar anxiously watched the crashing waves and held tightly to the mast. The sailor approached the scholar and asked him, “Have you, my good man, by any chance studied swimology?” In puzzlement the scholar could only shake his head. “That really is too bad,” said the sailor. “You have wasted your whole life, for the ship is sinking.”

-– A Buddhist Story, from the book Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart, Edited by Christina Feldman & Jack Kornfield

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