The Single Step


Ak’wian struggled to understand the duality represented by the Yin and Yang. It was hard to contemplate that all things held both ends of any spectrum. How could a kindness hold any evil? Or an evil act any good?

The student visited his Master, Qui Lum, in the temple to ask about this important tenet of thought. He made his inquiry and Qui Lum sat quietly for a moment, pondering how to best help his faithful student understand this important truth. After a short time, Qui Lum rose and asked Ak’wian to come with him to the entrance of the temple. He asked Ak’wian to step just outside, as he remained at the door. The student obliged and turned to face his Master just inside.

Qui Lum asked, “How many steps lead into the temple?”

Ak’wian answered, “Just the one, Master.”

 “And what is the step made of?”, he inquired of Ak’wian.

“It is made of stone and mortar,” was the students reply.

“Well, then on this we can agree. Between us lies one stone step,” said Qui Lum. “Now, answer me this, is the step up or down?”

“It is a step up, Master” answered Ak’wian.

Qui Lum instructed his student to exchange places with him. The Master now stood in the courtyard looking back at Ak’wian in the doorway.

“Now, is the step up or down? Asked Qui Lum of his student.

“From here, it is a step down, Master” answered Ak’wian.

“How can it be that the step, which is still but one, and still made of stone and mortar, that has changed in no way, be both up and down?” asked Qui Lum. “All natural things are like this. What they are beyond what we see is always the culmination of what are direct opposites. The only thing which creates up or down is the direction we are travelling. And in either direction it never ceases to remain just one step of mortar and stone. When we follow our path, living in each moment, our direction determines what are steps become.”


20 Responses to “The Single Step”
  1. beth says:

    I love this life lesson !

  2. Jim Borden says:

    what a wonderfully simple way to explain such a concept; I guess that’s why he is the Master!

  3. Excellent Brad. It speaks to the relativity of all things.There are similarities with the fussy spaces in mathematics.
    It was a pleasure to read this. Thank you for sharing 🥰🤗

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Thank you, Gabriela! I think this ancient Taoist philosophy also meshes beautifully with modern physics and our current understanding of matter and anti-matter. The whole universe consists in opposites. Thank you for your kindness and best wishes, my friend! xoxo

  4. kristianw84 says:

    I love this lesson! It’s amazing how the ancient philosophies are still relative today.

  5. jonicaggiano says:

    This is a great post my friend. I love this beautiful lesson in life. Thank you Brad. I hope you have an amazing week. Sending lots of hugs and love always. ❤️❤️🤗🤗Jonikins

  6. Surprising how much help I need to see things that are so simple.

  7. petespringerauthor says:

    Too bad all lessons aren’t this easy to master.

  8. Brad, you already know I am a great admirer of your poems; so far, I haven’t come across short prose or stories as a part of your writing, maybe because I am less active in the blog world. But this side is as excellent as your beautiful poetries, extraordinary tale sharing a valuable life lesson. Great for a bedtime read, will love to read more of these in future. Awesome work my friend 👌🙏

  9. Harley Reborn says:

    I needed this

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