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Anthony de Mello

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While the wheelwright was making a wheel at the lower end of the hall Prince Huan of Ch’i was reading a book at the upper end. Putting aside his chisel and mallet the wheelwright called to the Prince and asked him what book he was reading. “One that preserves the words of the Sages,” said the Prince. “Are those Sages alive?” asked the wheelwright. “Oh. no.” said the Prince “they are all dead.” “Then what you are reading can be nothing but the dirt and scum of bygone people,” said the wheelwright. “How dare you, a wheelwright, find fault with a book that I am reading? Justify your statement or you shall die.” “Well, speaking as a wheelwright,” said the man, “this Is how I look at the matter: when I am fashioning a wheel, if my stroke is too slow it cuts deep but is not steady; if my stroke is too fast it is steady but does not cut deep. The right pace, neither too fast nor too slow, will not get into the hand if it does not come from the heart. It is something that cannot be put into words; there is an art to it that I cannot hand on to my son. That is why I cannot let him take over my work, so here I am at the age of seventy-five still making wheels. In my opinion it must be the same with those who have gone before us. All that was worth handing on died with them; the rest they put into their books. That is why I said that what you are reading is the dirt and scum of bygone people.” 🙂