I came across a story in a book I am reading, and I thought I’d share it with those in the Take Flight community. It struck a chord with me because the accusations in the story reminded me how people over the years have been constantly accusing Take Flight of all sorts of things. Accusations about us have ranged from us being financially driven, to not caring about the community, to us lying about our relationship with David Belle, and to even being bad people in general. A majority of these have centered on me and my character which is one of the reasons I am personally writing this blog.
The rumors continue to swirl to this day perpetuated by a handful of high profile individuals and there still has not been much of a reply from us. The passage below was taken from the book A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, and I think it will shed light on our demeanor, our approach to accusations, and the negative way in which the accusations have taken form and shaped some of the Parkour community’s view on us.
Is That So?
The Zen Master Hakuin lived in a town in Japan. He was held in high regard and many people came to him for spiritual teaching. Then it happened that the teenage daughter of his next-door neighbor became pregnant. When being questioned by her angry and scolding parents as to the identity of the father, she finally told them that he was Hakuin, the Zen master. In great anger the parents rushed over to Hakuin and told him with much shouting and accusing that their daughter had confessed that he was the father. All he replied was, “Is that so?”
News of the scandal spread throughout the town and beyond. The Master lost his reputation. This did not trouble him. Nobody came to see him anymore. He remained unmoved. When the child was born, the parents brought the baby to Hakuin, “You are the father, so look after him.” The Master took loving care of the child. A year later, the mother remorsefully confessed to her parents that the real father of the child was the young man who worked at the butcher shop. In great distress they went to see Hakuin to apologize and ask for forgiveness. “We are really sorry. We have come to take the baby back. Our daughter confessed that you are not the father.” “Is that so?” is all he would say as he handed the baby over to them.
The Master responds to falsehood and truth, bad news and good news, in exactly the same way: “Is that so?” He allows the form of the moment, good or bad, to be as it is and so done not become a participant in human drama…
…Imagine briefly how the ego would have reacted during the various stages of the unfolding of these events.
How the Zen Master Hakuin responds to accusations in this story is very similar to the way I respond to conflict and accusations, and it’s how I direct Take Flight as an organization to respond to them as well: we allow the form of the moment, good or bad, to be as it is and so done not become a participant in human drama. Added to this, like Hakuin in the story, we know that the accusations aren’t true. In addition to this concept, there are some other similarities that can be taken from this story that show more insight into how we think and what we do.
One thing I noticed about this story that is also very similar to the real world and the accusations that Take Flight and I personally face is that no one asked Hakuin any questions. If I had been the father of the girl, the first thing I would have done before accusing the Zen Master would have been to verify my daughter’s claim by asking Hakuin his side of the story. But the parents in this story did not do this. Instead they just accepted the daughter’s lie as fact and perpetuated the accusation to the detriment of the Zen Master reputation. For years we have been facing the same things at Take Flight.
One more truth that comes from this story emanates from a question people might ask: “Why didn’t Zen Master Hakuin respond and say he wasn’t the father?” This is a great question, and in order to understand Toll’s perspective on this you’ll have to purchase a copy of the book. However, one part of my perspective and answer to this is a truth I’ve learned over the years, and although Tolle does not mention this that I think applies to the story. This truth is that until people are ready to ask the questions they aren’t ready to hear the answers. As human, our brains work to find what we are looking for, and we rarely find something until we are open to finding it. So when someone accuses you of something and doesn’t ask for your perspective they aren’t usually open to hearing your side of the story. If they were, they would have asked you in the first place instead of already forming their conclusion and accusing you. I’ve seen this conclude-and-accuse-instead-of-asking-questions approach time and time again in the Parkour world driven towards Take Flight and myself, and we don’t usually respond simply because we don’t believe it will change anyone’s views. Those that are open to the truth will ask, and since no one asks we don’t give answers. It’s that simple. In our case (and one reason we are comfortable holding this view) the answers are our there too, and we have a great community and support that knows them and defends us. So because of that we don’t feel the need to restate what is already known. Like I said, our brains work to find what we are looking for. Even to the most minuscule rumors about Take Flight or myself, the answers are already out there for those that are searching with an open mind.
I hope you found this story enlightening, and I hope this blog is the beginning of helping clearing up the negative rumors and ideas that are spreading around about Take Flight. The entire book A New Earth is a fantastic read, and I highly recommend looking into it and picking up a copy for yourself. I did some research and apparently Oprah Winfrey put the book on the reading list in her book club, so you don’t have to take just my word for it : )
Adam Dunlap is the founder and CEO of Take Flight. In addition to his role at the company Adam is currently working closely with David Belle in films and on other projects in order to advance Parkour in the US and around the globe. Previous projects of Adam’s include starting the Revolution Parkour gym in Portland, Oregon, and running various Parkour blogs. Adam is an avid Traceur and can often be found training both outside and at Parkour classes in whatever city he finds himself. Adam currently takes no salary from his work with Take Flight.