In the year 284 atop Wudan mountain, Master Po beckoned me into an empty room in the middle of the night. Amongst total darkness, he handed me a candle, unlit. “Bring light this room. But stay where you are.” He demanded in the loudest of whispers.

I scraped the wick along the floor but it didn’t work. Then I tried to build friction in my fingers and use the heat to light the candle. The candle would not light.


I stood and thought and no new ideas came to me. I began to feel angry. I could feel him behind me. He would never give me an impossible task, why am I failing. Remaining calm became difficult as I repeatedly failed to light the candle. He said nothing. I saw nothing. I could not even hear him breathe, but I knew he was there. You were always sure when he was near.

After 6 hours my fingers were blistered and my temper was frayed. Furious I watched as the Sun rose. Light now flooded the room. The candle was not lit. I turned to face Master Po expecting to see his disappointment. But he was smiling. He gave me the slightest of nods. My efforts were wasted, my success was sure and I did feel foolish. My lesson was learned.

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