Once upon a time, three close friends visited a historical town. They roamed about all the day looking at remnants of a once thriving civilization. All around the town there was rubble and bricks holding together the form of old houses, castles and temples. Towards evening, each of them sat at a nice spot overlooking an old temple as the sun drew closer to the horizon.
One of them thought to himself,
‘How glorious this town would have been in its heydays. Even if only disintegrated parts of the civilization remain, it commands such glory and respect. I would like to build something like this!’
Later on in life he went on to become a great builder who engineered a state of the art township. Glorious on all fronts in his lifetime.
The second one of them was ambitious as well but wanted success quick. He thought to himself,
‘What is the point of building something that stands for long if it is going to become rubble anyway. And I can see remnants of old towns are celebrated by all. I should make something that turns into rubble fast so that I can be alive to see how my achievements are lauded.’
He went on to make a town with inferior quality material. It was sure to turn to dust within his lifespan.
The third friend was an observant man. He looked at the remnants of an old temple and saw a little tree growing out of the crevices. Then he saw around and almost everywhere, he saw little plants trying to grow in between bricks. There was a statue of the Buddha in a temple that was completely entwined in tree roots. It was the most famous place in the city.
He had an epiphany.
He went back and started planting trees all around his country. He did it all through his life happily.
In a couple of centuries their civilization was wiped off by a natural calamity.
A few centuries further into the future, people came to see the once glorious town from far away places.
The first friend’s construction drew a lot of crowd. People studied the remnants of the architecture. Even if most buildings didn’t hold on to their functional use, they still represented a glorious past.
The second friend’s construction turned into rubble within a few years of building. Nothing remained of it after a few decades. The land where the buildings stood was left barren, bereft of life.
What happened to the third friend’s work?
All around the country, there is thriving flora and fauna that is going to last for centuries for everyone to enjoy.
He only planted a few thousand trees in his life. But he invested his time and energy in something that would self replicate and flourish even after his demise.
No one remembers the name of any of these three friends today. Their karmic footprint is in the quality of their work.
Today, in this ancient town,
I’m writing under the shade of a resplendent tree in springtime. I have a feeling about what I should do with my time, life and work.