One day a man went to a guru and asked him to show him the way to greatness. The guru told him to meet him at the beach the next day. Bright and early the next morning the guru was there meditating in front of the rising sun. The man went up to the guru and said: ‘Show me the way to greatness. I want to achieve my goals and dreams. For my life is unbearable as I remain mediocre.’ The guru looked at him and smiled, and he whispered: ‘Step into the water, my son’.

The man, confused but willing, started to walk into the water. When he was knee deep in the ocean he turned around and looked at the guru. ‘Further’, said the guru unflinchingly. The man walked into the water until it rose above his chest. He began to notice the violence of the waves. He looked at the guru on the shore, who had since risen from his meditative trance.

‘Further’, the guru yelled, this time more forcefully. The man walked until he could walk no more. His feet left the soggy sand beneath and he started to tread water. The guru swam out to meet him and asked: ‘Do you really want me to show you how to become great?’ The man was now uneasy and nervous, but his eye towards greatness would not let him back down. ‘Of course’, the man nervously replied to the guru. The guru took his hand and put it on the man’s head, and with extreme force, pushed him down, beneath the surface.

Instantaneously a thought flashed before the man’s eyes; the guru was nothing but a madman. He had tricked him, and now he was going to kill him. Believing the end was nigh, he let go, and accepted the end. But just before the lights went out he felt himself rise above the surface.

The next thing he knew he had been helped by the guru to the safety of the sand. In shock, the man could not control his rage. He raged at the guru; and felt the strangely repulsive but attractive urge to attack him. Eventually, however, the seriousness of the situation overwhelmed his faculties, and the man collapsed in state of utter exhaustion. At the moment the guru stood over him with calm and knowing-eyes. ‘When you were underwater’, the guru spoke, ‘your desire for air was agonizing and all-embracing’. ‘If you desire greatness’, he continued, ‘that same excessive and intense desire must be a frequent visitor in your being. You must want greatness as intensely as you just wanted another breath. Without this intensity of desire, you are nothing. With it, your potential is limited only by the length of your life.’

Everyone has greatness in them, just not everyone has the key to unlock it. Desire is that key.

Further Readings