Heraclitus and The Oak

riverThe Master and his warrior-student rested under a massive oak tree near the stream.  “Look Teacher,” said the proud young warrior, “I will become as big and famous as this oak!” banging his sword against its trunk.  The Master sighed and told this ancient story…

Sitting under a tree much the same as this one, understanding his place in Nature, a very wise humble man once said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”  On hearing this sage’s words the Oak and the nearby slender reeds argued.  A wind blew and the great Oak stood proudly upright with its hundred arms up into the sky.  The reeds however, swayed and bowed low under the wind.

“You have reason to complain,” said the Oak to the reeds.  “The slightest breeze ruffles the water and makes you bow your heads, while I, the mighty Oak, stand tall and firm against the tempest.”

“Do not worry about us,” replied the reeds.  “The winds do not harm us.  We bend before them and so do not break.  You, in all your pride and strength, have so far resisted, yes.  But as the old Sage says, this is not the same river, this is not the same wind, and now you are not the same tree.”

“Pfffft” boasted the giant oak, “Non-sense!  We are oak.  It has always been this way!  We will stand forever!”

the-oak-and-the-reedsAs the proud Oak spoke, a great storm rushed in from the north.  The Oak stood more proudly fighting against the storm, while the reeds yielded and swayed.  The wind’s fury doubled then doubled again, and all at once the great tree fell, torn up by the roots and lying among the pitying reeds.

And looking upon the fallen Oak that wise Sage said, “Better to yield when it is folly to resist, than to resist arrogantly and be destroyed.”

The Master turned to his over-zealous student, and added “If you learn no temperance, your arrogance will be your folly.  Even the unmovable is one day moved.  Learn your place; embrace your place humbly.

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5 thoughts on “Heraclitus and The Oak

  1. Loved this. Excellent analogy. I resonate with the palm tree. It’s tap root runs deep. Its leaves are split to allow the storm winds to blow through so that the leaves don’t tare. It bends in the gales. Just yesterday I touched on this in a guest post. Very cool timing. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


    • Thought you’d be one person Victoria that would enjoy this analogy. Do any organizations, groups, faiths, ‘churches’, etc, come to mind that consider themselves a large, old, beyond reproach oak tree? 😉 hehe

      Nothing wrong with evolution. By the way, ran across this profound stunning soliliquy again. I love it! It is one of the best soliliquies ever made about life, humanity, and our planet. Enjoy. 😀


      • Professor, the Pale Blue Dot is one of my favorites. Thanks so much for sharing it. I can never tire of it. Sagan and I are soul mates. 😉

        Miss him so much.

        About 3 years ago I was co-organizer of a Meetup group in the city I live in. I presented cutting-edge research about the mind/body connection and the brain. I was also web master for the website. I posted the transcript from episode 13 “Who Speak For Earth” from the 1980 Cosmos series “A Personal Voyage”.

        You really inspired me today to publish a post. Thank You.


        “Do any organizations, groups, faiths, ‘churches’, etc, come to mind that consider themselves a large, old, beyond reproach oak tree?”

        Oh, yes indeedy. 😉


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