THE BAMBOO TREE
A man, despite all his hard work and effort, only experienced failure. Feeling defeated, he left everything and exiled himself to the woods. There he met a hermit and, in desperation, pleaded, “Give me one good reason not to quit.”
“Look. Do you see that fern and bamboo there?” the hermit said, pointing towards two plants. “Yes,” the man nodded. “When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them water, light, and fertiliser. Shortly, the fern quickly grew from the earth,” the hermit continued.
“But, despite the bamboo seed being watered and nurtured for years, it did not outwardly grow even an inch. In fact, nothing at all happened in the first year. There was no sign of growth. But I did not give up on the bamboo seed and continued to water and nurture it. By the fifth year, a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Within six months, the tree grew a hundred feet tall.
“So, did the bamboo tree lie dormant for four years only to grow exponentially in the fifth?” the hermit asked. Baffled, the man kept quiet. “The answer is quite obvious. The little tree was growing underground, developing a root system strong enough to support it's potential for outward growth in the fifth year and beyond. Had the tree not developed a strong foundation, it would not have sustained it's life as it grew.
“As you were struggling all this time, you were growing strong roots,” remarked the hermit.
The man learnt his lesson that day—the value of persistence and hard work. The fern and the bamboo stood right in front of him as he walked the path of life to continue to work on his dreams.
THIS, I KNOW
• Nothing liberates our greatness like the desire to help, the desire to serve.
• Maturity includes the recognition that no one is going to see anything in us that we don't see in ourselves. Stop waiting for a producer. Produce yourself.
• Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognise how good, things really are.
• The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.
• The spiritual path is simply the journey of living our lives. Everyone is on a spiritual path; most people just don't know it.
• It takes courage to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.
The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the world’s ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.
GROWING GOOD CORN
There once was a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year, he entered his corn in the state fair, where it won a blue ribbon. One year, a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbours.
“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbours when they are entering their corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.
“Why sir,” said the farmer, “Don’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbours grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbours grow good corn.”
Just for laughs
A custodian was working inside a church in the afternoon. He saw a little, old Italian lady kneel in front of a statue of Mary, praying. The workman decided to have a little fun. Getting behind the statue of Jesus, he said in a commanding voice, “Woman, get off your knees. Don’t pray to her, pray to me!” Looking up at the statue of Jesus, the little, old lady said, “Shut your mouth; I’m talking to your mother!”
The spiritual life is not a life before, after, or beyond our everyday existence. No, the spiritual life can only be real when it is lived in the midst of the pains and joys of the here and now.
– Henri Nouwen
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