Koan of the day – the Tree of Ténéré

 

There once was a great acacia tree, in the land of Niger – known as the Tree of Ténéré.

The tree of Ténéré was famed – not for its size nor its fruit, but its location. For lo, the Tree was the only tree within a distance of 400 kilometers.

No-one knew how the tree could survive where no other plant could. The sages of old whispered that its roots reached deeper than any other tree, perhaps all the way down to the great waters under the earth.

The Tree stood for decades, perhaps centuries, serving as a landmark to each one who would pass – the Tuareg crossing the desert, or the numerous azalai leaving Timbuktu for the salt mines of Taoudenni. Each one looked to the Tree for guidance – for lo, the tree could be seen from afar.

In the year of the Water Ox, the tree met its demise. A steel horse rider from Libya knocked it down. It was told from afar that the rider had been drinking from the juice of the bread tree, but such a manner would certainly leave one dead under the merciless Sahara sun. Thus, it was very likely malice, and malice only, which caused the downfall of the great tree.

Which thoughts passed through the mind of the driver of the steel horse, as he approached the holy Tree of Ténéré? What whince of will made him not turn away from the tree he had used as an aim for hours? Was it something he had decided a long time ago, a plan finally set in motion? Or was it just a whim, entering his mind seconds before he was about to turn away from the Tree of Ténéré, revered by the Tuareg for centuries?

Ponder that, oh student. For therein lies the key to your enlightenment.

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