Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Phoenix and the cucumber tree

Once upon a time there were two brothers, Tham and Hien. They had scarcely reached adolescence when their parents died leaving the two brothers the ancestral home - a large but simple house, a few fields and also a small parcel of forest land with a small hut.

Tham was greedy, miserly and proud. Hien was good, obliging and generous. When the two brothers thought of marrying, Tham looked for the richest possible bride whereas Hien followed his heart and looked for a sweet and loving partner. Immediately following the marriages Tham came to see his brother and told him:

"Now that we are both married, the house is too small for all of us. Since I am the eldest, it is only natural that the house should come to me. But I am not ungenerous, I don't expect you to leave empty-handed. You can have the small hut and the patch of forest land surrounding it. You are a worker, you can easily repair the hut and cultivate your land". Hien bowed his head in agreement and went to tell his wife.

The small hut was in a pitiable condition and the tiny plot of land was hard and rocky.

The only redeeming feature was a majestic cucumber-tree at one end of the field, still full of vigour despite its age. Its leaves provided shade for the hut, and seeing this Hien thought that perhaps the Gods had not completely abandoned him.

Hien and his wife worked very hard but what they were able to earn from the land was not sufficient to support them. On top of this, the young lady was expecting their first child.

One day when Hien was in a sad mood his wife calmed him. She led him outside the hut.

"Look at the cucumber tree", she said, "It is bending with the burden of its fruits. Soon I'll be able to pick them and sell them in the village. Don't give up hope".

But the next day when Hien started out for the forest he saw a very large bird with feathers of fire sitting in the tree and eating the cucumbers.

"Good bird, please have pity on us. The cucumbers are all that we have. If you eat them all, there will be nothing left for us!"

Hien did not know that the beautiful bird was the legendary Phoenix, so he was very much surprised when the bird turned and replied:

"I shall not be ungrateful and you will be greatly compensated for allowing me to taste these cucumbers. Ask your wife to sew a sack and come and see me tomorrow morning under the cucumber-tree".

The next day Hien waited under the cucumber-tree with the sack in his hand. He heard a fluttering of feathers over head and saw that the Phoenix was once again feasting on the cucumbers. Eventually the bird saw him:

"Open your sack and put it under the tree". Hien did so. As the bird ate the fruits, it dropped the equivalent weight of precious stones, diamonds and nuggets of gold into the sack.

Even before the sack was full Hien cautioned the Phoenix:

"Stop beautiful bird! I've already got more than enough to give us a good living. I thank you. You have been very good to us.”

The Phoenix understood the wisdom of the young farmer and told him:

"If misery again strikes at your door, look at this cucumber-tree and remember that you need not despair, that there will always be a solution; and if you are in need of me I shall not be far away".


This popular story hides a great truth: wealth is not just about having lots of money - it is also about the potential and possibilities of finding our own strengths: our imagination, our intelligence and creativity. Certainly the cucumber-tree and the Phoenix are proverbial, but the good bird didn't consider it worthwhile to speak to the wicked brother.

He spoke to Hien. This signifies that luck smiles on those who are enterprising, courageous, who have perseverance and confidence in their capacity to succeed and who do not give up the responsibility of their life by blaming it on fate or destiny.


"There are two types of people on earth: those who look for ways of succeeding and those who look for excuses for their failures".
M. de Cornouardt

"To have the courage of undertaking something is one of the principal factors of success".
James A. Worsham

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