The Story Of The Bamboo


In the east there was a master gardener who loved to walk through his garden every evening looking at the many plants he had taken care of.  Of all the plants in the garden, none was greater, or nobler as the mighty Bamboo.  Indeed, Bamboo was the very best in the entire garden and the Master of the garden was very pleased with Bamboo.

One evening, as the Master strolled through his garden, he stopped and spoke to the mighty Bamboo.

“Bamboo,” he said.  “I will use you.”

Bamboo stood tall and without hesitation replied, “Master, I am yours.  I have waited my whole life for this.  Use me.”  Bamboo had waited many seasons for such a day to come.  It was the Master that planted him and nurtured him.  It was Master that was so careful in aiding to his strength and growth.

The Master did not smile.  He had more to say to Bamboo.  “Bamboo, if I am to use you, I must cut you down.”

Bamboo immediately complained.  “Master, I am the best plant in the garden.  I am the strongest and the tallest.  I am your best work.  Use me but don’t cut me down.”

Master replied, “If I cannot cut you down, I cannot use you.”

Bamboo, sagged a little, and acknowledged his master.  “If you cannot use me as I am, then cut me down.”

Master said to Bamboo again, “Bamboo, I will use you, but I must cut off all of your leaves.”

“But Master, my leaves are the grandest of all.  They are my pride.  Cut me down if you must, but please let me keep my leaves.”

Master frowned a little and said, ““If I cannot strip you of your leaves, I cannot use you.”

Bamboo bowed even lower than before.  He replied, ““If you cannot use me with my leaves on, then cut them off.  They are yours.”

Once more, the Master said, “Bamboo, I will use you.   But to do so I must rip you apart and tear out your heart.”

Bamboo gave no argument at this point.  He bowed as low as he could and simply replied, “Master, if you cannot use me without taking from me my very heart, then my heart is yours to rip out.”

The Master smiled and continued on his walk.

The next morning, the Master came into the garden, cut down the mighty Bamboo, stripped him of his leaves, cut him up and tore out his heart.  Then, as only a Master can, he fastened Bamboo together again, end to end, section by section.  One end was placed in a flowing stream while the other end was placed in the beginning of an irrigation platform designed to carry the water to many gardens and fields.

Bamboo, in his willingness to bow to his Master’s wishes, harsh as they sounded, carried water and life to the plants all around him.  Bamboo went from being the mightiest in the garden to the servant of all.

This is what it means to be of service. 


24 Comments Add yours

  1. I feel like Abby looks at me like I’m bamboo…lol

    Good to hear from you again, Paul. I always look forward to your posts.

    1. Thanks Jane…thanks for being here. Hope Abby is okay too.

      1. Lol. Oh, Abby is JUST FINE!! Lol

  2. Paul says:

    Love it Paul. Well said. This links well to a number of umbrella concepts like Leadership. Many do not get this but the job of a good leader is to remove the obstacles form the paths of their employees. To act as an enabler – to serve. This cannot be done out of a feeling of ingratiation but rather from the perspective of encouragement and faith.

    You can name the concept – charity, kindness, efficiency, collaboration, power, leadership – and they all come down to giving of one’s self, ultimately to serving. To me that’s one of the biggest issues in our society today – those who have power do not know how to serve – which will, eventually result in their loss of power, but that does not seem clear to them.

    Anyway, I ramble – excellent post Paul. Thank You.

    1. Paul says:

      As an aside Paul, I just did a guest post over at Cordelia’s Mom. I’d be honored if you could find the time to drop by for a read. Thanks Paul! 🙂

      1. I would be honoured to check out the post, Paul. Always a pleasure to read your words.

    2. It’s interesting you took it in the direction of leadership. I didn’t think of that when I first stumbled upon this story on the Interweb. But I see your point. I think a leader is different than a boss in that the leader can have a vision and also see things that the employees (or whatever other terms you want to use) can’t see for themselves. The great leaders do it seamlessly. They do it instinctually and as oft the case, they push aside ego and pride and get down to it. A great leader actually serves his team, rather than what we normally think is the opposite, as you so well mentioned.

      As I mentioned to a new manager at work – our job is to work *with* the team, not against. We are a conduit for their rise up in the ranks and in bettering themselves in general.

      Thank you for bringing a deeper concept to the table, as always, Paul.


      1. Paul says:

        When you think about it, the really big, overarching concept that reaches into everything simultaneously, is direction. Everything here is dynamic which means, like it or not, all that is goes somewhere (much as all that is comes from somewhere). Personally, with faith, I try to move in the direction of greater good or the supreme being. And as you so astutely pointed out, leadeship is about direction, as is faith, and everything else when you think about it. As a leader you serve much as a sweeper in curling serves the player by clearing the way and in so doing setting the direction simultaneously.

        Cool post Paul.

  3. jeffstroud says:

    Beautifully conveyed !

    1. Thanks Jeff – I steal the best from the Internet! It is a great story.

      1. jeffstroud says:

        Hey that is what stories are for !

  4. Kevin Brough says:

    Reblogged this on Vision -Logic and commented:
    Servant Of All

  5. k2running says:

    Thank you for the great story, a parable of sorts. Missed ya the last few weeks.

    1. Thanks Katie. Hope you’re well.

  6. This is such a great message to read as I prepare going about my day. Thanks for this parable, Paul, it really spoke to me, and helped clarify what it means to be of service (and that I need to get more into it!).

    Glad to have you back in my reader 🙂

    1. Thanks Josie. Ima keept stealing the good stuff..ha.

  7. Hmmm, I must be a bad person because I read that and thought, “Leave me in the garden, you murderous jerk master.” Ah well, I’m a work in progress.

  8. stacilys says:

    PAUL – I LOVE THIS. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this. It reminds me of an Einstein quote:
    “Only a life of serving others is a life worth living.” Truly amazing.

  9. stacilys says:

    Reblogged this on A God Colored Girl in a Grey World and commented:
    I love this post. Paul is an amazing writer and blogger friend. I couldn’t help but reblog this.

    1. That’s very kind of you to reblog, Staci. You are wonderful. Blessings

  10. Grant says:

    Fantastic – Always enjoy your posts.

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