Yesterday I related the following story to my Tai Chi class. Our instructor had been talking about the importance of staying empty, keeping one foot unweighted so you can easily move it in a desired direction.
Being double-weighted is a no-no. That's when you're firmly planted on both feet, committed to where you are, which prevents you from fluidly being somewhere else if the situation demands it.
I came across this tale in "A Short History of Chinese Philosophy."
Wang Hui-Chih was living at Shan-Yin. One night he was awakened by a heavy snowfall. Opening the window he saw a gleaming whiteness all about him ... Suddenly he thought of his friend Tai K'uei. Immediately he took a boat and went to see Tai.
It required the whole night for him to reach Tai's house, but when he was just about to knock at the door, he stopped and returned home. When asked the reason for the act, he replied: "I came on the impulse of my pleasure, and now it is ended, so I go back. Why should I see Tai?"
We talked about this in class. I mentioned that standing firm, remaining true to a plan, honoring a commitment -- this is seen by most people as a good thing.
Shifting gears, changing direction, charting a new course -- this also is viewed as having its pluses, but there seems to be more wariness associated with a zig-zagger in contrast to a straight-liner. Can he be trusted?
But one isn't less dependable than the other. They just have different commitments.
Wang was committed to honoring his sense of what felt right. When he was drawn to visit his friend, he did. When he wasn't, he didn't, even though he was about to knock on the door. Wang wasn't bound by the rigid "should's" that most of us carry around in our mind, placed there by learned social conventions.
Such as, If you've journeyed all night to see someone, you should take the final step and cross the threshold.
Well, again the question arises: Why? Who is a better judge of what's the right thing to do than you? If you feel an urge to turn around at the last moment (or any other time), follow your instinct -- whether you're on a religious or any other sort of path.