Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The Walnut Tree
Long time ago, when people didn’t know many things about nature and that included how to eat walnuts, a walnut tree grew by the road. It might have been planted there by someone for the benefit of other travelers or it could have grown there by chance if you believe that anything in life can happen by chance. One day a traveler passed by. He stopped by the old walnut tree to rest in its shade. Then he noticed the green fruits and tasted one of them only to spit it out in disgust with its bitterness.Some time after he had gone another traveler passed by. He too sat under the tree and noticed the tooth marks on the fruit the first one had bitten.“This fruit must not be very tasty,” he thought. “But everything in this world has a purpose. It must be the hard heart that is to be eaten.” And he bit the hard shell but nearly broke a tooth in the process. He too walked away hungry.Next came a traveler with scholarly disposition. He studied the fruit carefully, first tasting the bitter skin, then scratching the hard shell until he came up with the idea to break the shell with a stone. That was rewarded with the tasty walnut. The scholar smiled contently: “Wisdom and patience conquer all,” he thought.Soon a businessman leading a donkey laden with his goods arrived under the tree. The scholar happily shared with him his secret.The businessman thanked him and after they had eaten loaded the donkey with walnuts for sale. He let the scholar ride the donkey as a reward for his discovery while he himself walked and rubbed his palms in anticipation of his future profit.They traveled in silence but soon darkness fell over the road. They were worried because there wasn’t a town or village to be seen and they were afraid to spend the night in the dark forest. Suddenly the merchant saw a faint light in the distance.“There, he said. “I see a light!”“But how can that faint light help us,” said the scholar. “It is so small and lonely while the forest is big, dark and threatening.” While they were arguing the light moved closer and they saw a man carrying a lantern. That man was a philosopher who lived in a hut by a lake nearby. He took the travelers to his place to spend the night. As they entered the dark room the small lantern pushed the scary shades in the corners. Now the room looked bright and cozy. The inventive travelers shared with him the secret of the walnut tree.“Well done!” said the philosopher. “Tomorrow, I’ll go and pick up some of those wonderful fruits. Then I will travel all over the world and plant a walnut tree by all roads that I pass.”“But, then who will buy the walnuts that I am trying to sell!” said the businessman, disappointed.“Don’t worry,” answered the philosopher. “When more people taste the walnuts from the trees by the roads they will be more likely to buy them from you in the city marketplace.”“But what will be your reward for your labor?” asked the businessman.“ And how exactly do you plan to do it?” asked the scholar. “I mean how many walnuts will you start with and where you will plant them. Where you will start your journey will you go East, West, North or South?”“To tell you the truth, I don’t know,” answered the philosopher. “But as the light from my lantern is just enough for us to see the immediate road in front of us my initial intention and desire will carry me perhaps to the next step on my way towards my humble goal. And if I meet someone else with a lantern then together we will be able to see further.” Thus they spent the night chatting leisurely until the sun rose over the dark forest and they went each on their way to find their own happiness.