Aug 11, 2011

Finding the Greatness Within

by Kari Diane Pike
A number of months back, I discovered a new favorite movie. I don’t know how I missed seeing this one before. When I turned it on, everyone else in the family exclaimed they had already seen it and left the room. Where was I? My 13-year-old son humored me and agreed to sit with me and watch Kung Fu Panda. Oh. My. Goodness. Have you seen that movie? I have been analyzing it ever since. I Googled trailers and clips and quotes and found more and more to love about Po and his journey through self discovery.
Po looks like just another portly panda. He works in his father’s noodle shop, and dreams of becoming a true master of the martial arts. Through what appears to be a series of accidents, Po is named “The Chosen One” who, according to ancient prophecy, is the only one who can save the village from certain destruction. Old Master Oogway seems to be alone in his belief that Po is indeed the Chosen One. Master Shifu and the Furious Five do their best to discourage Po from pursuing his desire to become the Dragon Master. After all,
“One would think that Master Oogway would choose someone who actually knew kung fu.”
“Yeah, or could at least touch his toes.”
“Or even see his toes.”
As Shifu struggles to see what Oogway sees in Po, Oogway tells him,
“Your mind is like this water, my friend. If it becomes agitated, it is difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”
He also tells Shifu, “There are no accidents.”
Sometimes our minds get so agitated, we struggle to see things clearly. We blame others for getting in the way and for feelings that we don’t like. When we take the time to be still and recognize that the ripples in the pond distorting our vision come from our own choices, we can calm the waters. The clarity we receive comes through taking responsibility, accepting things for what they are, and then taking action. Sometimes the action is to be still and believe. At other times it requires us to roll up our sleeves and get in the game. Shifu chose to believe…in Oogway’s wisdom, in himself, and in Po.
When Shifu catches Po raiding the kitchen, he witnesses Po perform incredible acts requiring focus, agility and strength. Shifu nurtures, guides and teaches Po how to use that focus to develop his skills in martial arts. Po learns how to make his greatest weakness one of his greatest strengths. But there is still the question of Po being strong enough to defeat the malevolent Tai Lung. The entire village believes that Po must be given the sacred scroll that holds the secret to unlimited power. Imagine Po’s surprise when he opens that scroll only to find it has nothing written on it. Discouraged, Po believes that without the power promised from the sacred scroll, he is too weak to defeat Tai Lung. He returns to his father’s home. His father decides it is time to reveal to Po the secret of his special noodle soup. He says,
“The secret is…there is no secret. To make something special, you just have to believe it is special.”
Po suddenly understands the secret of the sacred scroll. While the scroll shows no words, it reflects the image of the one who holds it in their hands. The secret is that unlimited power is right inside of you.
“I’m not a big fat Panda. I am THE big fat panda.”
Like Po, underneath all the stuff on our outside is the mark of a chosen one. Whether we are short, tall, skinny, or portly…as children of God, we are divine in our nature through inheritance. We were created for a purpose and the power to fulfill that purpose is within each of us. As Po appeared to be just another panda, we can choose to be just another face, or we can choose greatness. The law of agency lets us choose simply because we exist. No one could make Po great. Not Master Oogway or Shifu or even the sacred scroll. The potential for greatness was always right there inside him. In choosing greatness, Po learned to accept himself and his situation for what it was, and then he took action. Po returned to the Dragon Palace and defeated Tai Lung, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the great Dragon Master and the Chosen One.
Think about what you perceive to be the biggest blocks in you life. Po wanted to change who he was. I loved seeing how Tai Lung served as a catalyst to help Po find the greatness within himself. How do your challenges serve you? Do you see your inherent greatness? I do. I see it in every one of you. Go look in the mirror. It’s right there. Be prepared to be amazed…because you are filled with pure awesomeness!


  1. Love this one today. I have thought the same things sitting through that movie. It is amazing to learn that we are each of us, enough.

  2. I love Kung Fu Panda, too! Great insights, Kari. Thank you.

  3. It's funny, the kids were just watching that the other day. I love the character progression in that movie! How he finally realized he didn't need to change his entire being in order to achieve greatness, but to hone and develop the talents he did have, and recognize his own unique strengths.

  4. ooo, if you liked the first movie, you will like kung fu panda 2. It has another great message!


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