~ The Useless Tree ~

Tree
Hui Tzu said to Chuang, "I have a big tree, the kind they call a "stinktree." The trunk is so distorted, so full of knots, no one can get a straight plank out of it. The branches are so crooked you cannot cut them up in any way that makes sense."

"There it stands beside the road. No carpenter will even look at it. Such is your teaching - big and useless."

Chuang Tzu replied, "Have you ever watched the wildcat crouching, watching his prey. The prey leaps this way, and that way, high and low, and at last lands in the trap. And have you seen the Yak? Great as a thundercloud, he stands in his might. Big? Sure, but he can't catch mice!"

"So for your big tree, no use? Then plant it in the wasteland, in emptiness. Walk idly around it, rest under its shadow. No axe or bill prepares its end. No one will ever cut it down."

"Useless? You should worry!"

 


Thomas Merton
The Way of Chuang Tzu
Abbey of Gethsemani, 1965

 


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Page Created on: October 20, 1998