Frog or Fish: How Much Do You want it?


Frog or Fish
by Rabbi Brian

2017 – issue 13 of 40

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Frog or Fish: How Much Do You want it?


One of my favorite “koans” about learning:

There are three frogs sitting on a lily pad.
One decides to jump in the water.
How many are on the lily pad?

The answer is three, not two.
(The one decided to jump in the water – we don’t know that it did actually jump.)

The moral: deciding that you are going to do something isn’t the same as doing it. 

Knowing you should do something isn’t the same as committing to doing it.

On the opposite end is a quote by Hafiz:
At some point the fish as to say, “Something ain’t right about this camel ride, and I’m so darn thirsty.”
What the fish has that the frog doesn’t have is the realization that it is a matter of well-being, of life and death.
The fish, having had some realization, must now commit to doing something or face certain death.
Similar to Hafiz’s words about the fish on the camel ride is a famous, apocryphal story told about Socrates and Plato:
Socrates and Plato were walking near a body of water, talking. Socrates says to his student, “Plato, let’s go into the water.” When they are up to their shoulders Socrates jumps on Plato and holds him under. Plato fights and fights against Socrates who keeps holding him down. Socrates finally allows Plato to come up to get air. Stunned and gasping, Plato asks, “Why did you do that?” Socrates replies, “When your desire for knowledge and truth is equal to your desire for air, you will be able to learn.”
Which are you?
Are you the frog who has decided to do something (but actually doesn’t)?
Or are you the fish and Plato who realize that something must be done?

Think about your life.
Where are the points where you are the frog and not the fish?


For many people, their spiritual life is a place where they are the frog.
Many people know that their spiritual life needs tending to.
But, like the frog, they have decided to take action without actually doing so.

Perhaps, with regard to your spiritual life, you feel like the fish or Plato.
Maybe you feel that tending to your spiritual life is a matter of life and death.

Probably, you are somewhere in between.
If you want help doing some work on your spiritual life, I’m here to help.

This is what I do.

  • I help people achieve spiritual fitness and to be more spiritual – in ways that make sense to them
  • I help people find and be with (the) God (of their understanding)
  • I help people deepen their religious lives
Reply to this email and I’ll send you some suggestions of how I have helped other people and what might work for you, too.
Or, just reply to tell me that you liked it, that this article about frogs and fish 
resonates with you. 

With love,


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I thank you for reading. If you know of someone who might like this, please share.

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