Too Much Fruit Kills The Root

“A king went riding in the forest and encountered a mango tree laden with fruit. He said to his servants, ‘Go back in the evening and collect the mangoes,’ because he wanted them for the royal dining table. The servants went back to the forest but returned to the palace empty-handed. ‘Sorry, your Majesty,’ they told the king, ‘the mangoes were all gone, there was not a single mango left on the tree.’ The king thought the servants had been too lazy to go back to the forest, so he rode out to see for himself. What he saw instead of a beautiful mango tree laden with fruit was a pitiful, bedraggled tree. Someone had broken all the branches to take the fruit. As the king rode a little further, he came across another mango tree, beautiful in all its green splendor, but without a single fruit. Nobody had wanted to go near it. It bore no fruit, so it was left in peace. The king went back to his palace, gave his royal crown and scepter to his ministers, and said, ‘You may now have the kingdom, I am going to live in a hut in the forest.'”

—Traditional Buddhist story retold in Ayya Khema. Be An Island: The Buddhist Practice of Inner Peace. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1999. Pg. 63.

Quakers have a traditional saying, “There’s no fruit without the root.” This story suggests a corollary, “Too much fruit kills the root.”

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