Grandmaster JinBodhi Tells a Story:
Zhang Liang Fetched the Shoes
One day, as Zhang Liang crossed a bridge, he saw a man in ragged clothes. Suddenly, the man threw his shoes in the river and demanded Zhang Liang retrieve them.
Zhang Liang jumped into the river without hesitation and fetched the shoes for the man. The man continued his demands: “Put them on for me!” Zhang Liang was shocked at his behavior; however, upon noticing the man’s advanced age, he put the shoes on for him.
Before the old man left, he told Zhang Liang,“You are teachable. Meet me here again in five days.”
On the fifth morning, Zhang Liang returned to the bridge to meet the old man at the appointed time. The old man was already there. He scolded Zhang Liang: “How dare you be late for an appointment with an elderly man! Come back in five days!”
Another five days passed, and Zhang Liang arrived at the bridge as the rooster crowed. The old man was again already there, and he was mad. He turned his back and left, yelling to Zhang Liang, “Come back in five days!”
Again, another five days passed, and this time Zhang Liang made an effort to be at the bridge before the old man. Indeed, he reached it at midnight. When the old man arrived and found him there waiting, he said happily, “I knew you would be here earlier than me today.” He then took out a book on military strategy and gave it to Zhang Liang.
Zhang Liang studied the book, which was titled The Art of War. With the knowledge he gained, he later became an astute military strategist and tactician during the third century BC (Western Han dynasty, a golden age in Chinese history), bringing peace and prosperity to the land.
This old man was, in fact, wise and knew that Zhang Liang was a great talent. Thus, he guided him through a unique approach. On the other hand, Zhang Liang was someone who respected the elderly, kept his promises, was determined and persistent — characteristics which compelled the old man to present him with the special book on military strategy. In order for the younger generation to gain knowledge from seniors, it is very important to be humble, patient, and to persevere. And, when met with failure or humiliation, do not be mad or depressed or give up. Pick yourself up and continue to strive until you attain your goal.