Here’s a little story about the dangers of believing too strongly in your own myth.

In India there is a special kind of teacher called a guru. He isn’t an ordinary teacher, not by any means; he doesn’t use chalk, ask funny questions or tell you to stop chewing, shut up and sit at your desk. What he does do is act exactly like his teacher before him and that’s what every student is expected to do too. The guru will teach you about all kinds of gods, all kinds of clever tricks to do with breathing, twisting your body in a knot, and understanding things that ordinary people don’t get to hear about and he does it by doing exactly what his masters did for countless years before him. So when a young student was late for class one day, he knew he was in trouble.

He had been with the master for a couple of years and was starting to understand. He had learnt how to slow his breathing right down so that he appeared almost like a dead body, he had learned to speak the language of the local gods and he had learned to see things that aren’t normally seen in the village. He had watched his guru closely and copied him as exactly as he could, trying to perfect his masters skill, words and outlook but this wouldn’t matter if he was late as that would NOT be like his master at all and he might find himself no longer welcome at the school. It wasn’t his fault though. The rain had been falling for days and alothough it had stopped now the river was riding so hi that his usual stony crossing place was a torrent of rushing foam that couldn’t be walked against. There was no boatman within 10 miles and no bridge as far as his legs could walk and that meant he was in serious trouble. Then he thought to himself what would my guru do? After all his guru was the model of perfection, the thing that he should aspire to and the closest thing to God, surely that must mean his guru would have the power to cross the rushing waters. He stood on the bank, cleared his mind and said to himself my guru, my guru, ,my guru, and stepped forward. Miraculously his foot rested a fraction of a measure above the torrent. He took another step, then another and then, suddenly he was across the river and able to run to the school.

He arrived breathless and amazed and panted to his master how sorry he was. The guru waved a judgmental finger and admonished him for being late. The student related his story about how his master was the closest thing to God and about how he could surely cross the rushing deluge so he said my guru my guru, my guru and crossed safely to the other side. The guru was impressed and let the student sit down.

After the day’s classes the guru happened to find himself by the water’s edge pondering his own greatness. My closeness to God gave him power, he thought perhaps I am indeed the revelation of greatness. So he stood on the bank, reflecting on his holiness and remembering the students actions said out loud me, me, me and was swept away by the water, drowning and wondering what in heaven had gone wrong.

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