Yoga Dave sent an email this week with the following story. You've probably heard some version of it before:
A cruiseship docked in a tiny Greek village.
An American tourist got off the boat, ventured into the village, and saw a Greek fisherman.
He complimented the Greek fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.
“Not very long,” answered the Greek.
“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.
The Greek explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.
The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings I go into the village to see my friends, dance a little, drink a bit, and sing a few songs. I have a full life.”
The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you. You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.
"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant.
You can then leave this little village and move to Athens, London or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise.”
“How long would that take?” asked the Greek.
“With the power of the internet and if you make the right hires, this can happen quickly...a few years,” replied the American.
“And, after that?"
“That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can go public and make millions!”
“Millions? Really? And after that?”
“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your grandchildren, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife, and spend your evenings singing, dancing, playing and drinking with your friends…”
I've been thinking of this story in terms of enlightenment training.
Most of my teachers have said that the purpose of yoga is to find happiness. I agree with this, which is why I embarked on the path of teaching yoga. I wanted to help open people to their own innate happiness by showing them how to change their relationship to breath or to notice patterns of repetitive thoughts.
The deeper I get into the rabbit hole of yoga, the more intense the practices become, the more esoteric the ideas, the more complex the mantras, and it starts to feel like a complex system of knowledge that will take years to even partially understand.
This idea was starting to really bog me down, with the thought that I still have so much to learn and maybe I'm not even remotely qualified to teach yoga, considering all the aspects that I have yet to master myself.
And then I was reminded of this story, and I realized that I'm just like that fisherman.
Maybe you are, too.