Keval Shoots an Arrow

Keval drew his breath in and aimed the arrow at the target. He switched to a version of reality where nothing except his target existed. Even his self melted away until he was nothing but a viewpoint.

When he felt sure that he couldn’t hit anything other than his target, Keval let the arrow go. He missed.

Disappointed, but incapable of not analysing his way of doing things, Keval had finished running all the calculations inside his head before his master’s cane hit the back of his head.

“Do your math boy,” came his master’s favourite phrase. “You are not doing your bloody math!”

“My math was correct, I checked,” Keval defended himself. “There was nothing wrong with my calculations.”

“Well it didn’t work,” said master. “And if it didn’t work, it can’t have been correct, can it?”

“It was the wind,” Keval said, pointing at the invisibility around them. “The wind blew my arrow off-course.”

The master kept looking at Keval in silence.

“My math was correct,” Keval repeated.

The master walked to the target and pulled the arrow out of the stump of wood it had lodged itself into. He examined the arrowhead carefully and looked back at Keval. Then he walked back towards his young student and handed him the arrow.

“The wind is doing its job young archer,” he said. “It is blowing as it always blows. That is its nature. Perhaps you would like it to hold still while you shoot your arrows, but that is not going to happen.”

Keval bowed his head in acknowledgment of his master’s words.

“It is you who must make allowance for the wind’s blowing when you take aim,” the master continued. “If you can’t do that, go and practice somewhere the wind does not blow.”

“There is no such place,” said Keval.

“Wise words,” said his master with a smile. “Everything has its place in the universe — the wind, your arrow, me, this ashram, the trees, birds — everything. None of it can be wished away, just like I can’t wish you away even though you interrupt my afternoons with your foolish dreams of being a great archer.”

Keval smiled a little. His master smiled wider.

“Do not blame the wind,” said the master. “Instead, learn from it. Keep moving, no matter what. Don’t stop to complain about your circumstances. Find a way around them.”

Keval took the lesson in and smiled until his master’s cane stang his elbow like a bolt of lightning.

“Don’t stand around. Take aim,” barked the master. Keval breathed in and raised his bow.