Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
A Carrot, An Egg and a Cup of Coffee
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for
her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of
fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high
fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs,
and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.
She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.
She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.
Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel
She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and
After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the
daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter
then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity ... boiling water.
Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being
subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin
outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had
changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you
Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt
and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but
changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship
or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the
inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance
that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are
like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around
you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to
another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
to put the nation in order,
we must first put the family in order;
to put the family in order,
we must first cultivate our personal life;
we must first set our hearts right. Power of the Mind
The next morning, at sunrise, the Master went to South Mountain where he had shot the tiger
the night before. There he saw a large rock shaped like a tiger with his arrow embedded in it. At
first he was surprised that his arrow had penetrated a hard rock, and then his mind became
arrogant and he believed that no one could match his strength and skill with a bow and arrow.
The Master tried to shoot an arrow into the rock a second time, but it struck the rock and
bounced off to the ground.
Last night, the Master was shooting from the level of the mind. In the life or death situation, he
determined that his arrow should penetrate into the tiger’s bone, no matter how hard it was. The
power of the mind was what put the arrow into the rock. If the mind is in original mind, we can
display the whole power of our techniques. The ultimate aim of the martial artist is to reach this
level of the mind-world. When this level is reached, we can truly be called Masters.
The following old story is one of the best examples to understand harmony with nature. A
famous thief escaped from jail and to escape the authority he had to hide in the woods. As he
was running, he stumbled upon a lumberjack. This lumberjack had worked in the woods since he
was very young and was an expert with the axe.
The thief, feeling he had nothing to fear, let himself be seen by the lumberjack. The lumberjack
recognized the thief immediately because he was so well known. As soon as lumberjack saw the
thief, the lumberjack thought that “If I kill him and bring his head to the authorities, I will get a
reward and never have to work in the forest again.”
But the thief, being so good, had trained in reading people's minds and knew exactly what the
lumberjack was thinking and told the lumberjack, "You are thinking about try to kill me now."
The lumberjack was so stunned he did not know what to do. So he started cutting a tree again.
He thought "How can the thief read my mind? I don't understand."
The thief again told him what he was thinking. "You have given up to trying to kill me because
you know I can read your mind now."
By this time, the lumberjack was so stunned he just could not think and so he kept on cutting
the tree. The thief started laughing, but suddenly, the lumberjack threw the axe, catching the
thief on his head.
The thief lived long enough to tell the lumberjack “I' could not I read your mind?" Then he died.
The reason the thief could not read the lumberjack's mind was because the lumberjack had lived
so long in the woods cutting the trees with the axe, that he had developed harmony between his
mind, body and axe. He had so stunned by the thief's reading his mind that he couldn’t
harmonize between his mind and body. But being in harmony with himself and his axe, before he
knew what was doing, he had thrown the axe at the thief, killing him. The thief could not read the
lumberjack's mind because the lumberjack did not know he was going to throw the axe until
after he threw it.
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