Disciples nearly always pass through a phase when they feel that it is no use doing any service to the spiritual group or to fellow men, no use in fact doing anything with a purpose, because all these things will reinforce egoity, the feeling “I am doing it.”
They may drop for quite a long time into a sort of inertia, thinking, “Well now, at any rate I am not being egoistic.”
To a pupil in this state a teacher told a parable:
“It is a tradition in ancient China that the turtle smoothes out its footsteps in the mud by wiping them out with its tail as it goes along. It leaves no footmarks, and therefore its enemies cannot follow its footsteps.
“But the enemies follow the marks left by the tail.”
“Then what is one to do?” wondered the pupil.
“You cannot stamp out your egoity, but you can forget it. Forget yourself in the action; perform your actions without hoping for a result or fearing the results of failure. Perform the actions for the joy of the movement itself; feel the natural impulse to beauty and order flowing through your movements and actions. Do not think of what went before or what may come after, but lose yourself in this which has come before you. You will feel as if you had been relieved of an awkward and hampering burden, and your actions will become light.”