how to maintain your elasticity in life

how to maintain your elasticity in life
Photo by Woody Kelly / Unsplash
“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
– Chinese Proverb

Once, a great Chinese emperor visited a renowned Zen master. When the emperor arrived, he found the Zen master rolling on the floor, laughing heartily, and his disciples were laughing along with him. The emperor was taken aback by this unexpected display of mirth from a revered spiritual figure.

Feeling embarrassed by the Zen master's seemingly undignified behavior, the emperor admonished him, saying, "This is unbecoming of a master like you! Some etiquette must be observed. You are rolling on the floor, laughing like a madman."

The Zen master looked at the emperor, who was carrying a bow, a common sight in those days. The master then posed a question to the emperor, "Tell me, do you keep your bow always taut and stretched, or do you allow it to relax as well?"

Intrigued by the master's question, the emperor replied, "If we keep the bow continuously strained, it will lose its elasticity and become useless. It must be left to relax so that it retains its flexibility and can be used when needed."

Nodding in understanding, the Zen master said, "That is exactly what I am doing."

The emperor's eyes widened as he realized the deeper meaning behind the Zen master's laughter and apparent lack of decorum. The master was demonstrating the importance of balance and the need to allow oneself moments of relaxation, just as the bow requires, in order to maintain inner strength and resilience.

Balance and flexibility are crucial in life. Just as the bow needs to be both taut and relaxed at times, we need to find a balance between discipline and moments of release. Constant tension or rigidity can lead to a loss of resilience. As the author and time management expert Alan Lakein succinctly put it, “Tension is the great enemy of effectiveness.”

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