The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship

Children's Stories

The Teak Tree

My grandchildren, my brothers and sisters, my sons and daughters, it is morning now. Shall we go for a walk? Look at this dense teak forest. The government of Sri Lanka grows thousands of these teak trees.

Do you know why they grow this particular tree? Because its wood is quite valuable, and they can sell it to other countries. It is very beautiful, useful, light, and durable. Because teak is easier to work with than the wood of any other tree, it can be used for many purposes. Carpenters can make beds, tables, and chairs out of this wood, and builders can use the seasoned planks for houses and roofs.

To gain the greatest benefit from the teak tree, however, you should wait at least twenty to thirty years before cutting it down. Only then will its oil develop and its color darken. The oil in the seasoned wood is so bitter and poisonous that insects will not attack it. But when the tree is young, the oil is mixed with water, and the quality of the wood is poor. It can still be sold as teak, but it is not as beautiful or durable as it will be later. Only after it reaches a mature state will it attain its full value and last for two to three hundred years, long after other woods have rotted. Its planks will be firm, and the buildings and furniture made from it will remain strong and beautiful. If you polish it, you can make it shine like a mirror, and from generation to generation, it will need only occasional cleaning and reconditioning.

My grandchildren, look at that tree over there. It seems to be mature enough for cutting. It is probably about forty or fifty years old. Most of the other trees here are only two or three years old. Look how small they are, measuring less than a foot in circumference. If their branches are pruned regularly, they will grow straight, and in twenty years they will be ready for cutting. However, because the government is impatient to use them for building, they often chop down the young trees while the wood is still white. But these trees are not strong and should not be used so soon. The rain and wind will rot the wood within a year.

My love you, my grandchildren. Man is like the teak tree. Even though he may be called a human being, he will not develop his full value until he reaches maturity. Before then, no matter how learned he may be, no matter how many arts and sciences he has studied, he will be like the young teak tree, of no use t himself or anyone else. If he is cut down before his time, he will not be of any use at all in this birth. The immature man will be destroyed.

What must a man do to mature properly? First he must establish a connection between himself and God, a connection between his qualities and actions and God's qualities and actions, between his justice and conscience and God's justice and conscience, between his love and God's love. He must establish a connection between the peace and compassion of God and his own peace and compassion. To become strong in wisdom, his qualities and actions must mature. His prayer and meditation and worship must also mature. Then, when God's grace develops within him, he will appear beautiful to the hearts, the qualities, and the wisdom of all. Because he understands the right and wrong in the hearts of others, he will be a beautiful being in the form of love, compassion, wisdom, and justice. The resplendence of God will flow from him just as the oil oozes from the teak tree, and he will be useful for hundreds and hundreds of years.

In the same way that mature teak can be used to build beautiful houses, such a man will be useful in helping people to build the beautiful houses of their hearts. He will help them to establish a connection with God through prayer and meditation to the extent that their wisdom and knowledge permit. There will be benefit in whatever such a man says or does. His actions, his justice and peace, his every breath will be useful and helpful to all people.

My love you, my grandchildren. The exaltedness of man comes when he has established a connection with God. His life will be of benefit to others when he has developed wisdom and conscience within himself, when he knows right and wrong, heaven and hell, and good and evil. Satan will not go near him when he is in this mature state, just as the insects will not infest the mature teak tree. Illusion, the five elements, and mind and desire will not harm him. If any of the four hundred trillion, ten thousand spiritual energies even touch such a man, they will die. Only God's grace, His qualities, and His justice and love will exist in a man who has established this connection with God.

You must think about this. My love you, my grandchildren. You must establish this state in yourselves and give these benefits to all.

My love you.

- M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
Come to the Secret Garden: Sufi Tales of Wisdom