A young Buddhist monk approached his teacher, and asked the Zen Master: ‘If I meditate very diligently how long will it take for me to become enlightened?’
The Master thought about this, then replied: ‘Ten years.’
The student then said: ‘But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast, how long then?’
Replied the Master: ‘Well, twenty years.’
‘But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?’ asked the student.
‘Thirty years,’ replied the Master.
‘But I don’t understand,’ said the disappointed student. ‘Each time I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?’
The Master replied: ‘When you have one eye on the goal, you can only have one eye on the path.’
[From: The Very Delicious Strawberry, Twenty illustrated Zen stories adapted for children, by Tim Johnson and Andrea Brajnovic.]