There once was a fool, who one day walked down to the banks of a large pond. When he looked into the water, he saw what appeared to be gold shimmering in the pond, and cried out, “Gold!” At the same time, not being able to hold himself back, he jumped into the water and searched high and low for this treasure. But no matter how hard he tried, he could find no trace of the gold.
Exhausted and disappointed, the fool returned to the shore to rest. After a while, the muddy, stirred up water of the pond gradually settled to its original clear state, and once again on the surface of the water appeared the image of gold. As soon as the fool saw this, he gladly jumped back into the water, and continued his energetic search. But he came up empty handed just as before. In the end, the fool had no choice but to climb back up onto shore dejectedly, where he then stood staring as if in a daze at the glittering appearance of gold in the water.
At this time, the fool’s father came by looking for him. When he noticed his exhausted son, he asked, “Why are you so tired?” The fool despairingly told his father, “There’s gold in this water, I jumped in and searched for ages, but I just couldn't find it!”
As soon as the fool’s father saw the golden reflection in the water, he knew that the golden hues were actually coming from the tree next to the pond. He said, “The bird must have carried the gold into the tree.” When the fool heard this, he joyfully climbed the tree and finally got his hands on the gold that he had been so desperately searching for.
Wealth, lust, fame, and self-interests that people pursue in life are impossible to possess for a long period of time, just like this unfounded and unreal “gold in the water.” Real gold is none other than our inherent pure self nature. For us to achieve spiritual liberation and true happiness, we need to rely on the wisdom of the Dharma. Have you ever thought about giving up on the gold in the water and start searching for the real gold instead?