The Blindness of Desire

By | March 4, 2011

Here’s another Zen story to help break us out of our accustomed perspectives. What do you make of it?

The gardener brings the king a basket of lush fruit ringed with perfumed flowers. He enjoys the fruits so much that he asks to see the orchard from which they came.

In the center of the orchard stand two magnificent peach trees, one drooping with blushing peaches at the peak of ripeness, and the other barren.

He picks a choice peach, warm from the afternoon sun, and slowly savers it. When he is ready to leave, he asks the gardener to fill a basket for him to take along.

Several days later, the king returns for more peaches. He walks up to the tree and stands there speechless at the sight of her many broken branches, most of her leaves laying on the ground, and not having a single fruit.

“What happened, gardener?” he asks.

“After Your Lordship left,” he answers, “the orchard staff and passersby wanted to try for themselves what so pleased their ruler. In their lust they ravaged the tree.”

“Look at the tree beside her,” comments the king. “She still stands clothed in shimmering leaves, only because she had no fruit.”

1 Comment

Isaac on March 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm.

To me this story sounds like our gifts (fruits) are both blessings and curses. They are a burden that we carry on our arms, yet once they are taken from us or given away, we are released from that burden. So in a way, we best honour what we have by giving it away. There is a sense of selflessness, even as peasants would climb over each other to get the fruit – depending on whom you identify with. Yet at the end of the day, the tree still has dignity in its robe of shimmering leaves.


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