The popular story of Bamboo and Fern
- A lesson in acknowledging your blessed roots
The bamboo has always been a thing of marvel to me when I was a child. It took me by surprise when Science taught me that technically speaking, bamboo is actually a grass and not a tree as such. And when I read up more and more on the bamboo, I began to realize how divine it is - being nature's perfect representation of the values of faith, strength, endurance, patience, flexibility and growth. In martial arts circles and among Zen practitioners, there is a famous adage linked to bamboo; that when storm strikes, the stiffest tree will break away but the bamboo remains unbroken as it adapts itself according to the direction of the wind. This is a great lesson in strength and flexibility as well as on a deeper philosophical level, it means yielding oneself to what is - flow in harmony with nature - with the universe, without resistance from the ego.
There are many inspirational stories with respect to the bamboo. However, for now, I just wish to share on this popular story that I had recently come across in a motivational book.
It is a simple story that I find it remarkably inspiring and endearing.
The following story is mentioned in the book 'MELODY OF THE HEART' by Mr. Joji Valli:
One day John decided to quit. He quit his job, his relationship, his spirituality. Then he wanted to quit his life. John went to the forest to have one last talk with God.
“God”, John said. “Can’t you give me one good reason not to quit?” His answer surprised John. “Look around”, He said, “Do you see the fern and the bamboo?”
“Yes”, John replied.
God continued. “When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. In the second year the fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. In the third year there was nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. In the fourth year, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. I would not quit. Well, then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern, it was seemingly small and insignificant, but just six months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall.
It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle.”
God said to John, “Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots? I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you. Don’t compare yourself to others.”
He said, “The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful. Your time will come.”
God said to John, “You will rise high.”
“How high should I rise?” John asked.
“How high will the bamboo rise?” He asked in return.
“As high as it can?” John answered.
“Yes.” He said, “Give me glory by rising as high as you can.”
John left the forest convinced that God will never give up on him and John himself will never give up too.