I’m going to tell you a little story.
It’s about a man who wanted to know the secret of success, and decided to find out from a Guru.
Now this was a wise, old sage who knew every secret of Life. He lived in splendid isolation on a mountain-top. Our hero set out on his difficult journey to meet this wise man.
He was determined to reach the top, and so he got over many obstacles on his way. Fighting through thick forests, scaling huge boulders, escaping from wild beasts, at last he clambered to the peak and lay on the ground, gasping for breath.
A few minutes later, he sat up… and beheld the Guru seated in deep meditation.
Silently, he waited. Almost an hour later, the Guru opened his eyes and glanced at the man. He raised an inquiring eyebrow.
The man stammered, “Oh wise and all-knowing seer, I come to you in search of the secret of success.”
The Guru didn’t reply. He simply stood up and started walking down the hill.
The man followed. He found it difficult to keep pace with the old man, who seemed to skip from one rock to the other like a mountain-goat. They walked steadily for another hour, and he wondered if they were going back to the foothills.
Suddenly, they came upon a clearing. In the middle was a clear lake. The waters were still, glinting softly in the rays of a setting sun.
The Guru walked up to the edge of the lake and beckoned the man closer. With a gesture, he asked him to kneel down.
Unquestioningly, the man did as the Guru ordered.
Suddenly, he felt himself seized by a strong hand at the back of his neck. His head was forced down under the water, and held there firmly.
“This is some kind of test,” said the man to himself, as he sat still.
A minute passed, and he was growing breathless. The grip on his neck hadn’t weakened. Another minute crawled by, and now he was getting anxious. His heart beat heavily in his chest, his throat tightened, and his lungs screamed for air.
He struggled to arise, and the old man’s grip became even stronger, pressed him further down into the water.
Now, the man was in a panic. He thrashed around wildly, trying with all his energy to loosen the vise around his neck. Precious seconds passed, and he felt his strength slowly ebbing away.
He thought he was going to die!
Just as he was about to give up hope, rueing his folly in ever coming here, the hand on his collar let go.
Violently leaping onto the shore, the man drew in his breath in heaving gasps. Delicious oxygen flooded his lungs. His vision grew clearer, the hammering in his throat slowed down, his hands stopped trembling.
And he felt a deep anger welling up from within himself.
Standing up, he faced the Guru and screamed: “Are you CRAZY? You could have killed me!”
The Guru simply stared at him for a long moment.
Then he spoke for the first time:
“You wanted to know the secret of success. Here it is. Do you remember, just a few minutes ago, how badly you wanted to take that next breath of air?
When you want success that badly, you will have it. That’s the secret of success.”
Without saying another word, he turned around and walked back to his hilltop abode.
The guru is actually Socrates.
– Via friend.