An Old Man Moves a Mountain

If we can't see past a vast mountain, we often become discouraged and look the other way. The idea that no effort goes unrewarded quickly becomes forgotten. There's an old fable though that can give you the necessary strength to move any mountain.

In ancient China a long, long time ago, there lived a man called Guko. In front of his humble home were two towering mountains. Whenever he would go out, he would have to go all the way around the base of these mountains. This was very inconvenient to the soon to be 90-year-old. Guko wondered, “This situation is unbearable. Well now, I wonder. Isn't there anything I can do? … I got it!” After so many years of just talking about the problem, he finally made the decision to do something. He scurried home as fast as his elderly legs would take him.

He announced that evening, “I would like everyone in this family to help me level the mountain to make a road.” The first of the family to react was his wife. Her mouth dropped wide open at the radical idea. “Dear, you must first consider your age,” she grumbled with a sour face. “Then you have to think that no one alive can do such a thing. What progress could you possibly make in comparison with a mountain that size?” “I got to agree with Mom here,” said one of his sons. “This idea is kind of nuts.”

However, determination filled his being. Scorn from his wife or sons would not sway him this time. Guko spoke about his entire life's struggle traveling around the mountain. He presented with emotion and conviction just how important this was. “This heavy burden will always be a problem for all of us if we don't start to do something about it now.”

His sons were so impressed with their father's passionate speech that they were compelled to support him in the endeavor. His eldest son finally said, “Dad's right on this. We don't want to spend our lives trekking around that mountain either. We'll just haul the stones to the ocean and dump them. That mountain doesn't stand a chance. We can do this.” Guko and his sons began to move the mountain little by little. They would crush the heavy stones and carry them in a wheelbarrow toward the faraway sea in the east. The shoreline was barely visible and faint. “I can't see the horizon,” said his youngest son. “Are you sure we're going the right way?” “I can see it,” said Guko squinting. “We're almost there.”

The news of this magnificent project spread throughout the surrounding villages. A clever old man named Chiso overheard this and went to see the rumored “mountain moving” for himself. Arriving at the quarry, he laughed at the small wheelbarrow and the few crushed stones. “You are foolish to do this!” Chiso ridiculed. “You are almost 90. How much longer do you expect to live? You should give up and save yourself the shame of dying a complete fool.”

“Even when I die, my children will live on bearing children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren with no end in sight,” Guko said as he began to point behind him. “However, that mountain will not grow, so surely I will succeed in moving it.” Chiso, known to be the wisest of his town, found himself outsmarted.

Even if you lack support and are put down, you still can overcome the most challenging obstacles with fierce determination and resolve. You just need Guko's strong will power to accomplish your difficult goals. British historian Thomas Carlyle said, “All the grand projects seem impossible in the beginning.” Learning from Guko, we are made to realize that the grandness of our purpose can only be made in proportion to the diligence of our efforts.

A Story from China

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #21, An Old Man Moves a Mountain

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