If You Are Caught Up in the Here and Now, You Lose Sight of the Future

MK 1MK 3

Napoleon returned home in triumph after successive victory over Italy and Austria. The people welcomed him in a frenzy of jubilation, with illuminations, parades and banners, torches and bells, and gun salutes.

One of Napoleon’s men offered him respectful congratulations: “Sire, it must gratify you to receive such a rousing welcome.”

To his surprise, Napoleon answered coolly, “Don’t talk nonsense. It is a great mistake to enjoy such a superficial fuss. If circumstances were slightly different, these same people would be clamouring ‘To the guillotine!’ just as loudly. Nothing is so unreliable as the welcome of a mass of blind followers.


The great swordsman, Chiba Shusaku (1794 – 1855) went fishing one night with several of his followers. They set out with torches, heading farther and farther to sea in search of fish, until they lost all sense of direction. Which way was the shore?

Shusaku himself grew flustered and had a series of torches lit while he peered in vain into the gloom. As they roamed the sea with mounting panic, the last of the torches burnt out. The situation seemed hopeless. But lo and behold, as darkness settled in, there in the distance was the outline of land, looming darker still. The men whooped in relief and joy.

Days later, Shusaku recounted the incident to a fisherman friend of his. The friend said smilingly, “That wasn’t like you. You should know that you can’t see the shore with torches. Torches are used to light up your immediate surroundings. If you want to see into the distance, they only get in the way. When we want to look far off, we douse them on purpose.”

As long as you rely on torches, you cannot make out the distant shore.

If you are caught up in the here and now, you cannot look ahead into the future.

Daripada: Kentetsu Takamori, Something You Forgot … Along the Way, 2009.


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