“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ― Lao Tzu
This wonderful story has been adapted from Tom Callanan’s blog tomcallanan.com. The story illustrates levels of impact and by going further upstream we can go deeper to address transformative causes. There’s no right or wrong here, but ponder on the story and allow it to inspire you.
Once upon a time there were four yogis seeking enlightenment, they used to spend their time sitting by the riverbank meditating and practicing yoga together. Many years passed, and one day a basket floated down the river with a baby crying inside.
The yogis dived into the river without hesitation to rescue the baby. A few hours later more babies in baskets floated along the river, carried by it’s powerful current. The yogis rushed into the river, they struggled but managed to save every single one.
Then unexpectedly, three of the yogis looked at each other and walked away from the river, leaving one of the yogis in disbelief as she continued to desperately rescue the crying babies.
Months passed and the flow of babies suddenly stopped, and the second yogi returned back to the river.
The yogi explained that she’d been to the local village further up the river where, because of overpopulation, they were releasing new born babies into baskets into the river.
She explained that she’d built an orphanage to look after the newly orphaned babies. They were both relieved that the problem now seemed to be solved, and the two yogis went back into their yoga routine.
Unfortunately it wasn’t long before the orphanage became overcrowded with babies and so the problem restarted again. After a few years, strangely the problem stopped again, and this time the third yogi returned.
The third yogi explained that to get to the root of the problem he’d gone further up the stream and created a family planning clinic with government funding, which was now flourishing. He really believed the problem was solved permanently, and so the three yogis went back to their meditation routine.
Two years passed, and an economic crisis struck the country. This meant government funding was cut and the family planning clinic was shut down, so the problem persisted again.
A few more years later, as the yogis became overworked from rescuing the babies, and the problem once again stopped without any notice, and the fourth yogi appeared. He concluded that the issue was more complex and overpopulation was just one of many issues causing the problem.
The fourth yogi had worked tirelessly to bring all kinds of people to work together to create a powerful political and social campaign. The campaign was a success, and enabled funding to resume for the family planning clinic. Again the problem appeared completely resolved, and the four yogis went back into meditation.
Several years later, due to a political change in the country, the government decided to stop the funding as the President decided there were more important issues to deal with. This had a negative consequence on the family planning clinic and the babies continued again flowing down the stream again, which caused much pain to the yogis.
The yogis were aging now, and they felt really upset about the situation which they worked so hard for so many years to resolve. But in their deep despair, there was a glimmer of hope. As the yogis sat by the riverside, they watched a lotus flower transform from a tightly closed bud into a blooming flower as it’s petals opened up towards the morning sunlight. One of the yogis exclaimed that they needed to transform themselves and society like the lotus flower.
The yogis realised they needed to by having constructive dialog with influential leaders in the community. The yogis invited them to come to the river bank and see what was happening while discussing an ideal they decided to call ‘the 5th yogi’.
Through sharing ideas, experience and wisdom between themselves and others they developed the idea of “the 5th yogi”, and thought of it like a higher level of consciousness.
They realised the 5th yogi really represented a transformation within each individual in the community, and each individual would have to take responsibility to create a more compassionate and enlightened society.
Slowly as time passed, a deep healing process took effect as the discussions in the groups started coming to fruition and changes emerged in the society. The problems which caused so much pain had become something of the past.
The four yogis were now old, sat by the same riverbank everyday. But they were quietly happy as they smiled at the thought of the 5th yogi.
- What did you conclude from this story?
- How could you apply the concept of the 5th yogi?