Typically, we sin when aiming to do one thing but our excessive love of self causes us to miss the bull’s-eye. Upon reflection, our conscience—shaped by previous formation—pronounces us guilty of sinning since we often judge ourselves as we imagine God judges. Never, ever presume to judge as you think God judges! No one, church or temple knows the heart of God. So ponder this Zen tale.
Once in a mountainous area notorious for harboring bandits was a village that uniquely had an old, retried Samurai warrior as its protector. The villagers proudly showed all visitors examples of their protector’s expert skill with the bow and arrow, pointing to round targets painted on walls of some houses in which in each red bull’s-eye was a single hole. “See, such an expert is our great Samurai protector,” boasted the villagers, “that not a single robber dares molest our village.” When the visitors asked to meet this talented Samurai, the villagers with mournful faces answered, “Ah, it’s most unfortunate, but today he happens to be away walking in the mountains.”
One impressed visitor eager to meet this Samurai warrior nodded and departed…but only a short distance away to await the Samurai’s return. After night settled softly on the village and all were asleep, by the light of a full moon the visitor watched as an old man entered the village and began shooting arrows into the blank walls of buildings. Then removing the arrows, with a paint pot and brush, he quickly painted concentric circles with a bull’s-eye around the holes left by his arrows! Then grinning, he silently slipped away into the darkness.
Who in their life hasn’t shot some sloppily aimed arrows, then regretted sinning by missing the target? But what if while we are asleep, our passionately understanding and loving God comes and paints target circles with a big red bull’s-eye around the holes of our sins? Then silently, smilingly slips away.