Autumn Leaf

One autumn day, I was in a park, absorbed in the contemplation of a very small but beautiful leaf, in the shape of a heart. Its color was almost red, and it was barely hanging on the branch, nearly ready to fall down. I spent a long time with it, and I asked the leaf a lot of questions.

I asked the leaf whether it was scared because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling. The leaf told me, “No. During the whole spring and summer I was very alive. I worked hard and helped nourish the tree, and much of me is in the tree. Please do not say that I am just this form, because the form of leaf is only a tiny part of me. I am the whole tree. I know that I am already inside the tree, and when I go back to the soil, I will continue to nourish the tree. That’s why I do not worry. As I leave this branch and float to the ground, I will wave to the tree and tell her, ‘I will see you again very soon.’”

Suddenly I saw a kind of wisdom very much like the wisdom contained in the Heart Sutra. You have to see life. You should not say, life of the leaf, you should only speak of life in the leaf and life in the tree. My life is just Life, and you can see it in me and in the tree. That day there was a wind blowing and, after a while, I saw the leaf leave the branch and float down to the soil, dancing joyfully, because as it floated it saw itself already there in the tree. It was so happy. I bowed my head, and I knew that we have a lot to learn from the leaf.

– Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Tradition.

Two sides of a coin

Any happiness there is in the world ultimately turns to pain. Why? Consider the two sides of a coin: just because what we desire is to be seen on the front does not mean that dislike won’t soon appear on the back. Likewise, hope and fear are a single coin, one entity with two faces—on the other side of a moment in which we hope for more happiness will be our fear of more suffering. Until attachment is eliminated, we can be certain of having both hope and fear. As long as there is hope and fear, the delusions of samsara will be perpetuated and there will be constant suffering. Thus attachment is the nature of both hope and fear: looking at the ultimate emptiness of the self-envisioned magical illusion of hope and fear, we should hang loosely in the flow.

– Tulku Pema Rigtsal, Nyingma, Tibetan Buddhism.