Before returning in the spring, I eagerly anticipated seeing a tree in full bloom, abounding in radiant white pear blossoms. And yet, upon my return what greeted my eyes were only a few branches, with nothing to adorn them but sparse flowers amidst a light misting of green leaves. Last year, the pear tree had blossomed copiously, with many bustling bees... But this year, that enchanting scene had disappeared. Astonished, I asked why. As it happened, the branches had been pruned for the sake of harvesting more pears, leaving the tree looking forlorn.
Standing quietly under the tree, I could not help but reflect: Everything is not as it seems, for only in the end do we know the truth.
If in coveting the luscious blossoms and precious buds in spring, we do not have the heart to prune the branches, there will be no delicious pears to enjoy in autumn. If in youth all of our time is spent investing in objects, accolades and guises–the things that we have and not the things that we are–then we will be consumed by the superficial, refining only appearances. Eventually, in the autumn of our lives, we may find our past hollow and devoid of meaning. Therefore, let us not allow temporary pursuits to engross our minds. Let us enrich ourselves positively, grow virtuous, and become wise. We must not ignore personal cultivation for the sake of pretense. Or else, come autumn, we will only envy the pears hanging abundantly from our neighbour’s tree, mouths watering in vain.
What needs to be surrendered, should immediately be let go; what needs to cease, should immediately be stopped–lest time pass us by, echoing only regret in our hearts. Of course, when it comes to the pear tree, some would rather admire its flowers in the spring, and buy its fruit elsewhere. But regarding our lives, if we indulge in the frivolous and fail to plan for our futures, I fear that come harvest time we will find ourselves lacking even a smattering of sweetness. Such a loss will not just be the sacrifice of a few pears, but of our future peace and happiness!
In A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, it is written: “What is it within me that causes this confusion?” Usually, when we are dazed by the fleeting pleasures of the world, we are enchanted only by what is before us. Thus engrossed, we find ourselves unable to progress spiritually as we forgo long-term planning for our futures. Instead, we carelessly waste extraordinary opportunities for growth, concentrating only on what is before us.
Great yogi Chang-chup-rin-chen once said, “Now is the time to set ourselves apart as humans.”
As humans we have the exceptional abilities to learn and to choose. We have the potential to grow beyond our greatest aspirations.
To be good. To be kind. To be moral. To be ethical. To be merciful. To be forgiving. To be compassionate.
To be loving.
We cannot afford to let these moments slip away.