Chapter 8: Not Knowing Life Is Death
Man doesn’t know what life is because he has believed his fulfillment is in only being a seed. He will know it only when his inner tree of life is totally manifested. But this is a long way off since, in the first place, we don’t even realize that there is something that exists within which is different and separate from the body. We are unable to remember, to realize, that there is also something different and separate from the body. Hence, the real issue in life is experiencing that which is within, instead of believing life to be that which pervades outside.
Once I asked a tree, “Where is your life source?”
The tree replied, “In the roots, which are not visible.” The life of the tree springs from those invisible roots; the tree which is visible draws life from the roots that are invisible.
Mao Zedong has written an anecdote from his childhood. He tells that there was a little garden close to the hut he and his mother lived in. All her life his mother had tended the garden with great love and care. People used to come from far away just to see the large, beautiful and lovely flowers of that garden. There was never so hard-hearted a person who, passing by the garden, would not stop for a moment or two and admire such appealing flowers. In her old age his mother fell ill. Mao was very young then. There wasn’t any grown-up around, but Mao told his mother not to worry about the plants and flowers. He said he would take good care of them.
Day and night, from dawn till dark, Mao would toil in the garden. Assured, the mother rested. In fifteen days the mother recovered from her illness and came out in the garden. What she saw was awful. The entire garden had withered away. Not only were the flowers long gone but the leaves were dead too. Even the trees had become sad. The old woman must have felt the same way anyone with eyes would feel looking at the garden of humanity today. All the flowers had fallen off, all the leaves had dropped, all the trees were sad. The old woman cried out, “What have you done? What were you doing from dawn till dusk?” she wailed.
Mao also burst into tears. He said, “I did the best I could. I used to dust each and every flower, I used to dust each and every leaf. I used to kiss each flower and spray water on each flower. I don’t know what happened! I put in so much effort, and the whole garden has withered away!”
Even though she was crying, his mother couldn’t hold back her laughter. “You foolish child!” she said. “Don’t you know trees never have their life energy in their flowers and leaves? It lies in their roots, which are not visible. Your watering the flowers and leaves, your kissing them, your pouring love on them was all meaningless. Never worry about the flowers and the leaves. If the invisible roots begin to gain strength, the flowers and leaves come on their own - you don’t have to worry about them.”