A Wise Old Man
A very rich man once asked a wise old man to ‘cure’ his only
son from his bad habits. The old man took the 15-year old boy
for a walk in the countryside. After a while, they suddenly
stopped. The old man asked the boy to pull out a tiny plant
growing at the side of a path. The boy, holding the plant
between his thumb and forefinger easy pulled the tiny plant
out. The old man then asked him to pull out a bigger plant
nearby. The boy pulled hard and the plant was uprooted after
“Now, pull out that one,” the old man said, pointing to a shrub
a few meters away. The boy had to use up all his strength to
pull the shrub out.
“Now pull out the papaya tree over there,” the old man
instructed the boy. The boy grasped at the trunk and tried to
pull it out but it just could not budge.
“It…it’s impossible,” said the boy, panting hard.
“So it is with bad habits,” the wise man said. “When they are
young, you can pull them out but when they take hold, they
cannot be uprooted.”
The wise old man managed to transform the boy from his bad
* Bad habits and conditioning in us are hard to alter… right
mindfulness, great determination and effort are needed to remove
* Unless and until we remove all our bad habits and vices
especially from a young age, we will have much suffering later
During the Tang Dynasty, there was a prime minister who
was regarded as a national hero for being a successful
statesman and military leader. Despite his fame, power and
wealth, he thought of himself as a humble and devout
Buddhist. He often visited a Zen master to study under him
and they seemed to get along very well. Even though he was
the prime minister the relationship was one of a revered
master and a respectful student.
One day the prime minister asked the Zen master, “Your
Reverence, what is egotism?”
The master put on an angry face and in a very
condescending and insulting tone of voice, barked out,
“What kind of stupid question is that?”
This unexpected response shocked the prime minister. He
was very angry and his face turned black.
The Zen master then smiled and said, “THIS, Your
Excellency, is Egotism.”
* Much suffering like anger and hatred arise because of our
ego, self-pride and conceit.
* The ignorant man reacts to all sorts of situations in order to
protect his Ego or Self. This brings much pain and suffering.