Inner Peace: The True Measure of Wealth

Inner Peace: The True Measure of Wealth
Photo by Mehdi Sepehri / Unsplash

Jealousy can erode life's joy and impede one's capacity for compassion and wisdom. This is illustrated succinctly in a brief poem: A tree gazes at another, wishing to become an axe. A blade of grass eyes its neighbor, even hoping for a wildfire to spread. In merely four lines, jealousy is vividly depicted and thoroughly exposed.

Beside a walnut tree in the orchard, a peach tree stands. Consumed by jealousy, it becomes despondent when it observes the fruits hanging from the walnut tree. "Why does the walnut tree bear more fruits than I do?" complains the peach tree bitterly, "In what way am I inferior? This is truly unjust! No, next year I must compete with it and produce more peaches! I'll show it my capabilities!" The old plum tree nearby advises, "Don't harbor jealousy without cause. Can't you see how robust the walnut tree's trunk and branches are? Have you considered whether your slender branches could support such a burden of fruit? I advise you to find contentment in your lot and live sincerely."

The peach tree, in its pride, disregards the plum tree's counsel. Its perception clouded by jealousy, it dismisses all reason. The peach tree commands its roots to delve deeper, to clutch the earth tightly, and to absorb all available nutrients and water from the soil. It also urges its branches to bloom as much as possible and ensure that all flowers bear fruit.

Its strategy is successful. The following year, after the flowering period, the peach tree is laden with fruit. Elated, it believes it can now compete with the walnut tree. However, as the peaches swell with juice and become heavier day by day, the branches of the peach tree start to buckle under the weight. The branches plead with the tree to shed some of the fruit, lest they snap under the strain. Yet the peach tree, unwilling to forfeit its impending glory, insists they persevere.

One day, the burdened peach tree emits a cry of pain followed by a "crack" sound as its trunk splits in half. The unripe peaches tumble to the ground and slowly rot at the base of the walnut tree.

Life is akin to a race. Regardless of the effort expended or skill applied, there will always be those who fall short of first place. Only those who cross the finish line ahead of thousands bask in applause. Is this not reflective of life? Those who excel in a specific field and capture everyone's attention contrast with the majority, who toil in their mundane jobs and ordinary households. Moreover, given the rapid pace of life's changes, who hasn't experienced the bitterness of hardship?

Jealousy is a hazardous emotion. It stems from people's desire for superiority and their narrow-mindedness. Jealousy can ensnare the gifted in a web woven of rumors, malice, and spite, or it can trap the wise in a clash of personal and others' interests with no exit in sight. It not only harms others but also ravages the self.

Experiencing jealousy is not in itself terrible. Rather, it depends on whether you can confront it and transform it into motivation. Instead of allowing jealousy to consume your heart, it's better to sublimate it. Convert it into a driving force, transform the negative into positive, excel in your work, engage in what you love, savor life's highs and lows, and maintain your inner peace. In this way, life is "perfect."