The swimming professor

One day a history teacher was telling his students, "You are physically very weak. That's why you are not doing well in your studies. In the days of ancient Greece, the students were physically very fit so they were also mentally very strong. In order to become mentally strong, you have to first become physically strong."

The students said, "There are many, such as great boxers and wrestlers, who are physically strong but mentally useless. And there are many who are mentally strong, such as great scholars, who can't lift one pound."

The students were arguing, and the teacher was trying to convince them. The students gave so many names of people who were physically strong but in the mental field were absolute idiots. Again, they were naming poets and scholars who were very weak.

Finally the teacher said, "Whatever you want to say, you can say. But I know many, many scholars who were very physically fit. In Greece, I know of one professor who was physically strong and, at the same time, mentally strong. He took all kinds of exercises."

One student in the history class happened to be a swimmer. She said, "I don't consider anybody physically strong unless he swims. Did this professor in Greece swim?"

The history teacher said, "Yes, he did swim and he used to ask his students to swim every day. It was compulsory that they swim. They had a very big pool and, before the class began, everybody was supposed to swim laps. Although it was a very big pool, they had to swim the length five times. They would leave their clothes and belongings at one end of the pool and swim the length of the pool five times. Then they would go to class after completing the five compulsory laps."

The girl started giggling and laughing. Then the teacher got furious. He said, "Come stand in front of me and kneel down. You are absolutely audacious! What an unruly student! Others I can keep under control."

The girl said, "How can you keep me under control if you are such a fool?"

All the students were so embarrassed. They didn't dare say that to their teacher. The teacher said, "I will report you to your parents."

The girl said, "You can report me to my parents, but I didn't know you were such a fool."

"What?" screamed the teacher.

The girl continued, "You said that swimming the pool five times was compulsory. If the students put their clothes at one end, then when they completed five laps, they would be on the wrong end. Do you think they would have gone inside the classroom in their swimming costumes? It has to be six laps or four laps, not five. I'm sure the teacher didn't allow them to sit there in the classroom in their swimming costumes and to leave all their belongings on the other side!"

From:Sri Chinmoy,The sailor and the parrot, Agni Press, 1981
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