Uncarved Block

June 17, 2007 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Once a statue is finished,
It is too late to change the arms.
Only with a virgin block
Are there possibilities.

It’s not easy to to raise a child. You have to set an example all the time. Sometimes it is important for both child and guardian to understand that a child should not do certain things that the adult does. This is not hypocrisy. It is wisdom.

There was once a child who responded to his father’s admonitions by saying, “You do the same things.” The father took his son to a carver of temple figures. In the yard were great blocks of camphor and rosewood. Inside the studios were deities in various stages of completion, from gods still with fresh chisel marks to brightly painted and gilded masterpieces.

“I am older than you,” said the father. “So I am more like one of these finished statues. I have my accomplishments, and I have my faults. Once this figure has been carved, we cannot change the position of its arms.”

“But you, my son, are like the pieces of wood in the yard, still to take shape. I do not want you to have the same faults as I do, so I do not let you do certain things. Look at me. Yes, you say I still do certain things, but doesn’t that show how hard it is to undo a mistake once it is carved into you? Don’t copy me, and don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Only then will you become more beautiful than I.”


Ming-Dao, Deng. 365 Tao: Daily Meditations. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992. 281.

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