Tuesday, 21 September 2010
The Tree of Immortality
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Mawlana Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi (q.s.) said that one day, in a village in the north of what is now Iran, there appeared a man who told marvelous stories about a tree whose fruit made whoever ate of it immortal. The news soon reached the ears of the king, but before he could ask the exact location of such a prodigy of nature, the traveller had already departed.
Nonetheless, the king was determined to become immortal, for he wanted to have enough time to turn his kingdom into an example for all the peoples of the world. When he was a young man, he had dreamed of making poverty disappear, teaching justice, feeding every single one of his subjects, but soon realised that this was the work of more than one generation. Still, life had given him a chance and he was not going to let it slip through his fingers. He called the bravest man in his court and entrusted him to find the tree.
The man left the following day carrying enough money to obtain information, food and all that was necessary to attain his objective. He traveled through many towns and over plains and mountains, asking questions and offering rewards. The honest people told him that such a tree did not exist; the cynics treated him with ironic respect, and some crooks sent him off to remote places just to get some coins for their information. After many disappointments, the man decided to give up his search. Although he admired his sovereign immensely, he would return empty-handed. He realised that this meant he would lose his honour, but he was tired and convinced that such a tree did not exist.
On his way back, on climbing a little hill, he remembered that a wise man lived there, and thought, “I have lost all hope of ever finding what I wanted, but at least I can ask for his blessing and beg him to pray for my destiny.” On reaching the wise man’s house, he could bear it no more and burst into tears.
“Why are you in such despair, my son?” asked the holy man.
“The king charged me to find a tree that was unique in the world, one whose fruit makes us live forever. I have always fulfilled my duty with loyalty and courage, but this time I am returning home empty-handed.”
The wise man began to laugh, “What you are looking for exists, and it is made of the Water of Life that comes from God’s Infinite Ocean. Your mistake was to try to find a form with a name. Sometimes this is called ‘tree,’ other times ‘sun,’ or ‘cloud;’ we can call it anything that exists on the face of the Earth. However, to find this fruit, one must renounce form and seek contentment.
Anything that has the Presence in Creation is in itself eternal; nothing can be destroyed. When our heart stops beating, even so our essence transforms into nature around us. We can become trees, raindrops, plants, or even another human being. Why dwell on the word ‘tree’ and forget that we are immortal? We are always reborn in our children, in the love that we show to the world, in each and every gesture of generosity and charity that we practice.
Go back and tell the king that he need not worry about finding a fruit from some magic tree. Each attitude and decision that he makes now will endure for many generations. So, ask him to be fair and just to his people, and if he does his work with dedication, no one will ever forget him. His example will influence the history of his people and stimulate his children and grandchildren always to act in the best possible way.”