Dangerous mind-sets

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Dangerous mind-sets

In ancient Central Asia, there was a custom of feeding hogs with pancakes made out of fat to make them plump and delectable. The story goes that one day a colt eyed the hog’s meal with jealousy, and then asked his mother why hogs were singled out for such a special treat.

Horses plow fields and carry their human masters, but they are confined to eating hay, nature’s greens and water. Hogs, on the other hand, do little but eat and lie around in mud. Still the colt’s mother answered coolly, “There is no need to be envious of them. You’ll see later what I mean.”

When the New Year arrived, each house feasted on pork dishes. Pig grunts and cries resonated throughout the village as the animals were thrown into boiling pots. The colt then shuddered and realized fat cakes were not something to be envious of.

The folktale shows us that a mind shadowed by ignorance and greed cannot see its surroundings clearly and achieve inner peace. The colt in the story gave in to his greed and therefore was prone to treacherous conclusions about the hog’s special meal.

The colt’s mind is not that different from the mind of many of our youth today. I have observed that the minds of the young do not settle down easily. Their minds do not dwell long in one place and are unpredictable in terms of where they will jump to next. The mind can be chaotic if its owner lacks self-confidence and cannot govern him or herself well.

There is a Chinese saying that the mind is like a monkey and thought is like a horse. It is a metaphor likening the fickle mind to a monkey that swings from one tree to the next and cannot sit still. The horse represents the fluid thoughts of a person running wild.

It would be impossible to concentrate on something with such a chaotic mind-set. One can derail from his or her role and path, even run astray from lifelong dream. A mind like this a weakness that needs to be tended and tamed.

The cause of Olympic gold-medalist and star swimmer Park Tae-hwan’s shocking elimination at the world championships in Rome, can be found in his mind.

He is not alone, but surrounded by young peers in the entertainment and sports industry who become swept up by the sudden spiral of fame and fortune, and find themselves later helplessly thrown and defeated on the ground. Often the cause of their failure was that they have let their minds, intoxicated by a sudden sweep of success, run heedlessly wild.

Of course, the outside world and circumstances have a lot to be blamed. But no one is more responsible than oneself for a failure. The mind has the answers to all successes and failures.

The talented young generation must oust the “crazy monkey” and “wild horse” from their heads and instead cultivate a slow but dedicated mind-set.


The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Yoo Kwang-jong [kjyoo@joongang.co.kr]

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