“I have struggled all my life to conquer amateurish technique, and now that perhaps I have mastered it, it seems too late to make any use of it.” – Ralph Vaughn Williams
This is the key motivation to grasp why the true master feels closer to the beginner than any other adept of an art form. The master’s mind suspends all judgment in order to share his nuggets of wisdom with the apprentice. One cannot exist without the other.
Mastery is a very lonely well. Its depth can only be drawn by the most passionate pupil.
This well often resides at the end of an old dusty road, and in it dwells many secrets. A secret is hidden knowledge that is worthy of excavation. The fearless seeker may have the will to embark on this solitary adventure, yet only a genuine disciple will uncover the truth.
The word mastery is frequently taken out context when we talk about an art form as a master is often regarded as someone of superior value.
The intellect is accustomed to separate and divide everything through ranks. The top of the pyramid has ruled our civilizations for millennia. Yet we all know that there is no top without the base and its sides.
With a pyramid notion of the world, someone or something is always oppressed, while others always strive to rise. This distorts the true meaning of the pyramid and keeps us trapped in the illusion that the ruler, or the master, has more value than the commoner (or slave).
The nature of mastery is that the student possesses a minimum of two elements which the master lacks – hunger and endurance. This defines the nature of the relationship between the two.
The student’s spirited yearning to quench his thirst saves the well from hosting lifeless water. The learner that stirs the source of the well. Purging the knowledge out of the seer, creates a new current of energy.
‘We should not hoard knowledge; we should be free from our knowledge.’
‘In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few’ – Excerpts from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by author Shunryu Suzuki.
This is the reason why the lone master must remain a fervent student in order to avoid the decaying of his skills. Yet, there comes a time when the virtuoso feels he has attained his summit. He does not revel in his old amateurish games, but simply wishes to observe the children play, balancing his form atop a branch.
He is called below to serve the garden and plant more seeds. Other times he chooses to quietly sit under his tree. With a Buddha’s heart he welcomes the spirited warrior. Both are fresh out of recess, both are ready for the lessons.
‘It’s never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise’ – Nancy Thayer