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Building a Road Not Only for Others but for Yourself
by David He

No one knew how long the desert had been there but most people knew that the shortest way to get between the two villages was to walk across the desert, for it would take only two days to reach the destination by crossing the desert while it would take more than twenty days to walk around. However, it was said that many people had attempted to cross the desert but had failed along the way.

One day, a learner passed by. He asked the local people to find some young white poplars to plant every half a mile between the two villages. Besides, he told the villagers that, when the poplars were able to grow, they could reach their destinations with the help of the poplars, and that, if they failed to grow, when passing by, they should pull them up in fear that they might get swallowed by the sand. To their great disappointment, the poplars died of heat. As a result, they became the road signals. Safely, the villagers walked for many years.

One summer day a monk came to one village. He decided to go to the other. The villagers told him what to do as the learner had told them. However, the monk would not listen to them. He got a huge bag of water and plenty of dry food and then went on his journey. He thought it was foolish to take others’ advice, so he planned to walk his own way. While walking, he noticed some dry dead young poplars, but he didn’t pull this one up or put that one deeper. Why? When he thought it was last time that he would walk across the desert, he decided not to do as told. He walked the whole day. At last he ran out of food and water. He felt tired, thirsty and hungry. He was about to sit down for a rest when a sand storm came to him. He tried to find the dead young poplars but in vain. Every possible way was tried but, wherever he went, there was the sand storm. He knew he could not walk across the desert, so he waited until his last hour came. The more he waited, the more regretful he felt. Obviously, his death was due to his stubbornness. If only he could have done as he was told! It was no use crying over the spilt milk! Suddenly, he heard a voice saying, “You have no way out. Remember, only those who have made a road for others can have their own road layed out.”