A young rabbi became infamous because of his unconventional methods and teachings. Because of this, he earned the ire of the elder, more traditional rabbis. One day, an elder approached him and said, “Why do you do these things? If your father were still alive, I’m not sure he would approve of what you are doing. You are nothing like him.”
The young man replied, “When my father was young, he initiated many changes and reforms that have been our custom for these past 20 years. Now, we no longer think of these as reforms because we have been so used to them. But back then, everyone was against him because he was the only one who wanted to change, who was not content with the way things were. It is not true that I am not like my father. On the contrary, I am exactly like him. He followed no one. I, too, follow no one.”
“Life’s little secret is this,” said the master to his visitor as they conversed over tea. “Never take it too seriously. Learn to laugh — at everything — and you learn to live,”
The visitor pondered on this, and the master continued, “I have had a total of four disciples under me. When they began their training, I gave them a set of rigorous physical and spiritual exercises. The first disciple was too weak and couldn’t handle the pressure so he ran away. The second was too meticulous in trying to follow every minute detail of the exercises that he drove himself crazy. The third tried to challenge himself to do more than what the exercises required and one day he injured himself fatally and died. Only the fourth disciple remained healthy and sane.”
“And how did he manage to do that?” asked the visitor.
“Well, he took one look at the exercises and said, ‘No sane man would do those things and you must be crazy if you think I’d do them,’ so he refused to do them,” replied the master, chuckling.
After breakfast one day, the master addressed his disciples and said:
“All I do is sit by the riverbank selling river water. And all you fools come, and line up and wait to buy this water, not realizing that any time, you can go to the river and draw water for yourselves.”