The Poisoned Tree

The maturity we can develop in approaching our difficulties is illustrated by the traditional story of a poisoned tree. On first discovering a poisoned tree, some people see only it danger. Their immediate reaction is, “Let’s cut this down before we are hurt. Let’s cut it down before anyone else eats of the poisoned fruit.” This resembles our initial response to the difficulties that arise in our lives, when we encounter aggression, compulsion, greed, or fear, when we are faced with stress, loss, conflict, depression, or sorrow in ourselves or others. Our initial response is to avoid them, saying, “These poisons afflict us. Let us uproot them; let us be rid of them. Let us cut them down.”

Other people, who have journeyed further along the spiritual path, discover this poisoned tree and do not meet it with aversion. They have realized that to open to life requires a deep and heartfelt compassion for all that is around us. Knowing the poisoned tree is somehow a part of us, they say, “Let us not cut it down. Instead, let’s have compassion for the tree as well.” So out of kindness they build a fence around the tree so that others may not be poisoned and the tree may also have its life. This second approach shows a profound shift of relationship from judgment and fear to compassion.

A third type of person, who has traveled yet deeper in spiritual life, sees this same tree. This person, who has gained much vision, looks and says, “Oh, a poisoned tree. Perfect! Just what I was looking for.” This individual picks the poisoned fruit, investigates its properties, mixes it with other ingredients, and uses the poison as a great medicine to heal the sick and transform the ills of the world. Through respect and understanding, this person sees in a way opposite to most people and finds value in the most difficult circumstances.

How have we met disappointment and obstacles in our life? What strategy have we brought to our difficulties and losses? What spirit of freedom, compassion, or understanding is yet to be found in the midst of these difficulties? (From the book “A Path With Heart” by Jack Kornfield, p. 78)

The Fruit of True Practice

Anger cannot be overcome by anger. If a person shows anger to you and you respond with anger, the result is a disaster. In contrast, if you control anger and show the opposite attitude – compassion, tolerance, patience – then not only do you yourself remain in peace, but the other person’s anger will gradually diminish….

An old Tibetan lama who was thrown into a Chinese prison for eighteen years said that he viewed his prison guards and torturers as his greatest teachers. There, he says, he learned the compassion of a Buddha. It is the spirit that allows the Dalai Lama to refer to the Communist Chinese who have occupied and destroyed his country as “my friends, the enemy.”

What freedom this attitude shows. It is the power of the heart to encounter any difficult circumstance and turn it into golden opportunity. This is the fruit of true practice. Such freedom and love is the fulfillment of spiritual life, its true goal. (From the book “A Path With Heart” by Jack Kornfield, p. 29 & 75)


Whatever you plant in your subconscious mind
and nourish every day with conviction and emotion
will one day become a reality.

Constant repetition carries conviction.
Repeat something often enough and it will start to become you.
A change in what you tell yourself
will result in a change in your behavior.

What you impress upon your mind,
you’ll inevitably become.
Self suggestion will make you master of yourself.

How things look on the outside of you always depends on
how things are on the inside of you.

Your thoughts have brought you to where you are today.
Your actions always mirror your thoughts.
Take a good look at where you are and what you’re doing,
and you can understand what you’ve been thinking.
Your mind is your true essence.

Your behavior is the perpetual revealing of yourself.
What you do, tells everyone who and what you are.

Change your thoughts and you can change your position in life.
You can start this process at anytime.
Why not start today? (From “The Daily Guru,” March 9,2006)