“Why are the trees green?”

1001 Tales told by the Master Discourses

Osho states, “Ask questions – not out of knowledge… Ask out of your ignorance.”


One day a small child was walking with DH Lawrence in a garden, and was continuously asking questions of all kinds. And DH Lawrence was one of the most sincere men of this century, condemned by governments, by priests because of his sincerity, because he would say only the truth, because he was not ready to be diplomatic, a hypocrite, because he would not compromise. Even before this small child he showed such authentic sincerity, which even your great saints have not shown.

The child asked, “Why are the trees green?” – a very simple question, but very profound. All the trees are green –  why? What is the matter with the trees? When there are so many colors, when the whole rainbow of colors is available – some tree can be yellow, some tree can be red, some tree can be blue – why have all the trees chosen to be green?

In DH Lawrence’s place, any parent, any teacher, any priest, anybody – x, y, z – would have told some lie, that “God made them green because green is very soothing to the eyes.” But this would have been deceptive, a lie, because DH Lawrence does not know anything about God, does not know why the trees are green.

In fact, no scientist who has been working with the trees knows, although he can show that it is because of a certain element, chlorophyll, that trees are green. But that is not the answer for the child. He will simply ask, “Why have they chosen chlorophyll – all the trees?” It is not a satisfactory answer.

DH Lawrence closed his eyes, waited for a moment in silence… what to say to this child? He did not want to be a deceiving person to an innocent child – although the question is ordinary, any answer would do. But the question has come from innocence; hence it is very profound.

And DH Lawrence opened his eyes, looked at the trees and said to the child, “The trees are green because they are green.”

The child said, “Right. I was also thinking that.”

But DH Lawrence remembered it in his memoirs: “To me it was a great experience – the love and the trust the child showed towards me because of sheer sincerity. My answer was not an answer; according to logicians, it was a tautology. ‘The trees are green because they are green’ – is this an answer?”

In fact, DH Lawrence is accepting that: My child, I am as much ignorant as you are. Just because there is a difference of age does not mean that I know and you do not know. The difference of age is not the difference between ignorance and knowledge.

Trees being green is part of the mystery of the whole existence.

Things are what they are.

A woman is a woman, a man is a man. A rose is a rose; call it by any name, it still remains the rose.

That morning, in that small incident, something tremendously beautiful is hidden.

Ask questions – not out of knowledge because all that knowledge is borrowed, unfounded, pure rubbish.

Ask out of your ignorance.

Remember, the ignorance is yours – be proud of it.

The knowledge is not yours. How can you be proud of it?

Osho, Beyond Enlightenment, Ch 2, Q 1 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

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