One day, as usual after the martial arts exercises, the master was answering the students' questions and doubts. There were a lot of them that day, because yesterday they all returned from the city, where they met with students from other schools at the annual competition.
The meeting was full of various comparisons and assessments. The students had a bit of a grudge against their master for not teaching them the details and secrets of combat, but for paying attention to meditation, mind, condition, inner peace, and emotional control. It is different in other schools. They teach kicks, holds and punches right away there.
The master listened and did not look surprised at all. At one point he turned to one of the students and said:
- Take this jug and fill it with stones.
The student was throwing stones into the pitcher. He chose as big as possible in order to quickly complete the ordered task.
"Done," he said.
The master looked at the filled jug and turned to all the disciples:
- Is the pitcher full?
"Full," they almost replied in chorus.
- Are you sure it's full? The master asked again.
- Yes, it's full, no stone will fit any more.
Then the master started pouring gravel into the pitcher. Several handfuls of it fit. The students looked speechless, and the master asked:
- Is it full now?
- Well, a fantastic example, Master. But you outsmarted us, the students replied with a laugh. - It's only now full.
Then the master started pouring fine sand. And again he poured over a dozen handfuls. None of the students laughed this time.
"It's full now," they replied.
Then the master started pouring water into the jug and poured a dozen or so measuring cups. The students watched silently.
- Is it full now? The master asked again.
"Yes, it must be full now," they said firmly.
And the master started slowly pouring salt in and poured in a dozen handfuls again ...
If you start filling the pitcher with small stones, gravel or salt, there will be no place for large stones.
If you start filling your head with details and trifles,
there will be no room for really important matters.
The story comes from the book “Bajki chińskie, czyli 108 opowieści dziwnej treści” by Zbigniew Królicki