May 22, 2014

The Sufi Master & the Archery Competition. ~ Antara Man {Short Inspirational Story}

archer statue

I have always loved tales, especially inspirational ones.

They always bring me back to my childhood, to a place where magic is alive, wisdom is the standard. When I revisit these stories I feel innocent and simple as a child.

I love Sufi tales in particular, because in the Sufi tradition stories and dreams have a special meaning. They are intended for special occasions and for special people such as the readers of elephant journal.

I will now share with you a truly inspiring Sufi story which I know from my Guru.

The Sufi Master and the Archery Competition
… or just be yourself.

Once upon a time, there was an archery competition in a kingdom.

A Sufi master and his disciples attended the event too. His disciples wrote his name in the list of the competitors without the master’s knowledge.

When the organizer announced that it was the Sufi master’s turn to shoot with a bow, the crowd went silent. The Sufi master was respected and nobody expected he would compete. The master himself was surprised to hear his name but quickly realized his disciples were responsible for that.

He took the bow silently and very quickly, without even glancing at the target, he shot. The arrow went high in the air without even nearing the target. The crowd started murmuring, “How did the great master miss the target?”

He said nothing, but only took another arrow and this time aiming quickly at the target made his shot. The arrow scored the bottom of the target. The people again started talking.

For the third time the Sufi master took an arrow, aimed at the target carefully and shot. This time the arrow hit the center.

The crowd again started speaking so excitedly that the organizer had to intervene and restore the order. He spoke to the master, “Great Sufi master, you scored three times and out of the three shots only the last one hit the center of the target. Could you please explain to us, why did you shoot all these times?”

“It is very simple,” replied the Sufi.

“My first shot represented the person who overestimates himself and that’s why the arrow didn’t even hit the target. The second time I shot as a person who underestimates himself and that’s how the arrow hit the target but remained in the bottom. The third time I was simply myself and the arrow hit the center of the target.”

For me the spiritual lesson here was that no matter what the competition or the circumstances may be, I should stay true to my inner nature, to myself.

In the words of Shakespeare:

“This above all: to thine own self be true.”

~  William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3

Of course, other people may find other morals in the story.

What’s your interpretation?


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Apprentice Editor: Yaisa Nio / Editor: Travis May

Photo: Pixoto / Ferdinand Neman

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Antara Man