Zen master Ryokan was walking on the beach. A storm had just blown over. Hundreds of starfish had been washed up by the waves; they were beginning to die in the sharp sunlight. Ryokan picked up the starfish one by one and threw them back into the sea.

A fisherman who had been observing Ryokan came up to him. “Why do you do this? Every time there’s a storm, this happens. You can’t save them all, so what difference does your attempt make?”

It will make a difference – to this one, replied Ryokan, as he flung yet another starfish into the water.