Cutting Silk

January 25, 2017

Personal Growth

When I was a child I saw a black and white movie that depicted the ancient Crusades and a meeting between King Richard and the great sultan Saladin. When Saladin remarked on the imposing weight and apparent strength of Richard’s sword, the king offered a demonstration. He found a weapon with a very thick steel handle and offered to cut it in half. One of his aides protested that the failure would bring disgrace on the king, but Richard persisted, and with a mighty swing, he cut the metal handle in half.

Saladin was impressed with so mighty a blow, but then he offered his own demonstration. He threw a silk scarf into the air, so light that it swirled with the light wind in the air. As the scarf settled on the sultan’s curved blade, it magically parted the silk cloth in two, which then settled to the ground.

Sometimes we encounter problems that require great strength. When I move a large rock or lift a heavy log onto a pile, strength is indispensable. But strength is not the solution for everything. Sometimes we need to be gentle, soft, and incisive. We have a lifetime to learn when to apply elements of both approaches.

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