Putting Leather on the World

Often, complex ideas are better explained with a story than with charts, graphs, or statistics. This story comes from Buddhism, and is one of my favorites. 

    There was once a man on a long journey. As he walked the path, he found he continued to cut his feet on the sharp rocks in the path he walked. His feet were painful and bloody, constantly being cut. Being a compassionate man, he realized if the sharp rocks were cutting his feet, they were probably cutting the feet of other travelers as well. Resolving to do something about this, so set about covering the sharp rocks with leather, so as to protect both his feet, and those of his fellow travelers. 

He resolved that this would be his great work-- covering the sharp rocks with leather, for himself and his fellow travelers. 

However, the more sharp rocks he covered with leather, the more sharp rocks he saw. No matter how many sharp rocks he covered, there always seemed to be more. He and others continued to have cuts on their feet. Despite his great exertions, and thousands of sharp rocks that were covered with leather, the cuts persisted. 

    One day, a monk was traveling the path, and stopped and asked what he was doing. The man explained, and showed the monk his progress, as well as the continued challenge he was facing. The monk replied, “Don’t you think it would be better to put leather on your feet, rather than putting leather on the world?”