Each day Giraffe would make the long uphill trek slowly
to a cherry tree where she would meditate.

After years, as aphids overtook the tree slowly
the tree withered and died.

Aged Monkey saw her crestfallen and comforted
her with compassion.

Monkey also shared that she was comforted
that there was a place of meditation that would never leave her:

“Each of us is the perfect expression of Tao.”


Gnu came to the monastery’s dining hall with pain
from having sat rigidly in meditation that morning.

Aged Monkey later massaged her back, relieving the pain
and offered a gentle suggestion:

“As gentle as Tao is towards all beings,
so you can be gentle with yourself.

Discipline need not mean punishment,
attention need not mean rigor,

patience need not mean

The greatest challenge one may find
in their journey upon the Way is to love themselves gently.”

The next day, Gnu meditated while walking slowly
and while helping Lemur rake the yard and felt no back pain.

Tortoise came and knocked on the monastery door, crying.
Aged Monkey opened the door and embraced her around her shell.

“I have come to serve the monastery as a lowly servant.”
Said Tortoise.

“I have robbed and stolen and lied and defrauded.
I wish to seek redemption here, I will sleep at your feet, Aged Monkey.”

Aged Monkey fed Tortoise her finest stew and then walked her
back to the village.

“Hear, oh village.” Aged Monkey announced in the square,
“Tortoise has confessed her wrongs and now she will repay you

with work and service, but I pray you: do not mistreat her.”
To Tortoise she said, “When done here, return to the monastery.”

Several months later, Tortoise returned to the monastery door.
“I am ready to serve the monastery as a lowly servant.”

Said Aged Monkey, “You will take my seat as teacher.”
and clothed Tortoise in the finest saffron robes.

“Each of us is the perfect expression of Tao.”