What’s the use of trying?

Some students discourage themselves by looking at themselves each day. After trying hard for a session, they feel that as there has been no result they have failed. Next day they try again, and again they fail. Gradually this builds up into a conviction of continuous failure, and they begin to think: ‘Oh, what’s the use of trying?’

For such occasions there is an ancient Indian example, that of the well-digger. The Indian tradition was that beneath the desert there is water, however deeply hidden. (This has recently been confirmed in the case of the vast Rajasthan desert in north-west India, beneath which a legendary river was supposed to flow. It has been established that the river is actually there, though deep underground.) The maxim of the well-digger is this. Each day when he digs but finds no water, he does not think: ‘I have failed.’ Next day he digs again, deeper, and so on day after day. Every evening, though he has found no water yet, he thinks not, ‘I have failed,’ but, ‘Nearer, nearer, nearer!’

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