There is a beautiful but quiet scene in the animated movie Kung Fu Panda which actually expresses a piece of great wisdom. It reminds us of the art of balancing belief in our work with the illusion of our need for control.
The wise old kung fu tortoise, Master Oogway, is speaking to his disciple, Shifu, a red panda who is charged with training the unlikely Po, a giant panda, to become the next great kung fu Dragon Warrior. They are standing under the Sacred Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom. Shifu is at a moment of crisis of faith, unable to see the potential in his overweight, clumsy protege.
Master Oogway points to the peach tree, with its lovely branches and its colorful, plump fruits. He picks up a peach pit, and explains to Shifu: “My friend, the panda will never fulfill his destiny, nor you yours until you let go of the illusion of control. The essence of this seed is to become a peach tree. Within this bumpy, hard-shelled pit is the potential for this entire tree, with its flower blossoms and branches filled with ripe fruit. I can plant the seed in the ground, cover it with soil, and nurture it with water and sunlight. But I cannot make the tree blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time.”
Shifu insists, “But there are things we can control: I can control when the fruit will fall, I can control where to plant the seed: that is no illusion, Master!”
Oogway replies, “Ah, yes. But no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will only get a peach.”
Shifu, anxious to produce a “winner” immediately out of his young Kung Fu Panda, says, “But a peach cannot defeat the evil Tai Lung!”
Master Oogway, while gazing into the starry night, replies, “Maybe it can, if you are willing to guide it, to nurture it, to believe in it. You just need to believe.”
How often in our lives do we try to force an apple or an orange out of something whose essence is a peach? Master Oogway reminds us that we cannot become so attached to an outcome that we imagine in our minds. Everything has an essence – a true nature that is immutable no matter what kind of influence we try to exert. Read the rest of this entry »