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The Garden

a retelling of a Taoist parable

In a village two temples stood next to each other. One was a Buddhist temple with a garden. One of the priests was a master gardener who spent time every day tending the flowers, shrubs, and trees.

Next to the Buddhist temple was a smaller Taoist temple. Every day the aged Taoist master sat outside and watched the Buddhist priest care for the garden.

One fall day the Buddhists were expecting some special guests. The gardener priest spent extra time pulling weeds and trimming the shrubs, trying to ensure the garden was perfect before their arrival.

When he had finished, the priest called to the Taoist master, saying, "Isn't my garden beautiful?"

"Yes," the master replied, "but something is missing. If you will allow me, I will help you make it right."

The priest hesitantly agreed, wondering what the master saw that he didn't.

The master slowly entered the garden and walked up to the large tree in the center. Mustering all his strength, he shook the tree until its leaves began to fall.

When he was finished, the master looked at the leaves strewn about the ground, and said, "Now it is perfect."

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