The Beauty In Honesty

The beauty in honesty:
authentic, yet imperfect
courageous, yet unknowing
everything, yet nothing
sourced in love.
~Michelle Maynard Koenig

Once upon a time, there was a li tree so spectacular, which was a rare sight to behold.

So huge it could shade a herd of several thousand cattle. So enormous it could have a dozen boats cut out from it. It towered eighty feet over the hilltop, before branching out.

Crowds stood by gazing, murmuring disbelief. But when a carpenter walked past the tree with his apprentice, he went on without casting a look.

Curiously the apprentice asked, “I have never seen such a splendid piece of timber, Master. How was it that you did not care to stop and look at it?”

“It’s not worth talking about,” replied the carpenter. “It’s good for nothing! Made into a boat, it would sink; into a coffin, it would rot; into furniture, it would break easily; into a door, it would secrete; into a pillar, it would be worm-eaten. It is wood of no quality, and of no use. That is why it has lived so long.”

Art by Ferdinand du Puigaudeau

Is the tree useless?

Late that night, the tree visited the carpenter in his dream. “You said that I am of no use, what you compare me with?” asked the tree.

“Do you compare me with the fine-grained wood? Or cherry-apple and other fruit bearers, who would be stripped of their indignity as soon as their fruit ripens? Their boughs are snapped off, the branches scattered around. These trees, by their own value, injure their own lives. They cannot fulfill their life span, and perish prematurely because they destroy themselves for the admiration of the world. “

The carpenter woke up from his dream. He knew he had wronged the tree.

Had the tree not been useless for the small purposes, how could it have survived for the bigger value — allowing the world to have a sacred tree so huge?  (A fable of Chuang Tzu.)


The beauty in honesty promotes the examination of one’s true self from a distance; to inquire. “Who am I? What am I doing? Why am I doing this?” By bathing self in honesty, one can find the spectacular li tree’s existence within.

Knowing not knowing is true knowledge.
Not knowing yet presuming to know is sickness.
The Sage is not sick because he sees the sickness as sickness,
By seeing the sickness as sickness, you are free from sickness.
~Laozi, Dao De Jing

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