The story goes like this:
In Burma, one Buddhist monk was ordered to make a design for the new temple, particularly for the gate. So he was making many designs. He had one very talented disciple, so he told that disciple to be near him. While he made the design the disciple was simply to watch, and if he liked it he had to say that it was okay, it was right. If he didn’t like it then he had to say no. And the master said, ‘When you say yes, only then will I send the design. If you go on saying no, I will discard the design and will create a new one.’
Hundreds of designs were discarded in this way. Three months passed. Even the master became afraid, but he had given his word so he had to keep it. The disciple was there, the master would make the design, and then the disciple would say no. The master would start another one.
One day the ink was just about to be finished, so the master said, ‘Go out and find more ink.’ The disciple went out. The master forgot him, his presence, and became effortless. His presence was the problem. The idea was constantly in his mind that the disciple was there, judging. He was constantly wondering whether he was going to like it or not, whether he would discard it again. This created an inner anxiety and the master could not be spontaneous.
The disciple went out. The design was completed. The disciple came in and he said ‘Wonderful! But why couldn’t you do it before?’
The master said, ‘Now I understand why – because you were here. Because of you – I was making an effort to get your approval. The effort destroyed the whole thing. I couldn’t be natural, I couldn’t flow, I couldn’t forget myself because of you.’
The whole thing hinges on one thing – when your effort drops and you become spontaneous, your act becomes your being.