The Warrior’s apprentice came to the temple as the son of a blacksmith. For many months, the apprentice could only swing his sword downward, like a blacksmith’s hammer. Each time the teacher instructed him to shift the sword’s direction, the student for some reason could not follow instructions. “I’m the son of a blacksmith,” he said one day. “I guess I’m meant to swing the sword only this one way.” The master glared at his student and held his own sword upright, so the trainee could see the teacher’s reflection in the shiny blade. “Tell me about the one you see in my katana,” instructed the master. The student responded: “I see a masterful and wise teacher, revered throughout the land.” The Master asked: “You don’t see the son of a farmer? The brother of a herder?” The student shook his head no. “You are only defined by the limits you place on yourself. Stop being a blacksmith’s son. Stop being a student of mine. I am no teacher. I am no master. I am but a servant of the Flow, bound by its infinite expanse, defined by nothing. Now, you boundless heap of energy, thrust your sword straight!” And with tremendous surprise, without thinking, the student finally did as he was instructed.
So often we cling to the labels, the definitions, the identities we’ve come to know as ourselves. But the more attached we are to these identities, the more we are limited by them. So what identities have you become attached to? What limiting definitions have you placed on yourself? Are you the cynical one, the depressed guy, the anxious woman, the angry son, the divorcee, the employee, the weird one, the struggling entrepreneur, the teacher, the student, the fat guy, the skinny lady, the poor person, the colored man, the religious person? In what ways are you being limited by the definitions of your identities?
Perhaps you are none of these things at the core. Perhaps you are simply a boundless manifestation of an infinite and eternal energy, without limits, unable to be defined, endlessly creating and changing and expanding. If this were so, how might the limits of your mind be expanded? How might your perception of the world and your view of yourself be changed? What would you be doing differently? What would you be risking, trying, creating, building, or changing?
For one week or even one day, try letting go of the labels. Try becoming identified with nothing—even the labels you like being identified with, the identities you think don’t limit you at all. Let go of all of it. Scary, right? It may feel a little disorienting, like you’re suddenly lost or unsure of who you are and what you’re supposed to be doing. But soon, you may realize the feeling of a real YOU, the inner being, and that there is no “should” or “supposed to”—that you are a free and creative energy able to move with the great Flow, spontaneously changing moment to moment without the need for judgment or definition. And so you are not limited by any identity or label...and neither is anyone else! Keep this in mind for a day or two or more…and see what directions your sword suddenly swings.
AFFIRMATION OF THE WEEK
I am bound by nothing. I am limited by nothing. I am the full, expansive, creative energy of the Universe.