Lao Tzu was traveling with his disciples and they came to a forest where hundreds of woodcutters were cutting the trees. The whole forest had been cut except for one big tree with thousands of branches. It was so big that 10,000 persons could sit in its shade.
Lao Tzu asked his disciples to go and inquire why this tree had not been cut. They went and asked the woodcutter and they said, “This tree is absolutely useless. You cannot make anything out of it because every branch has so many knots in it – nothing is straight. You cannot use it as fuel because the smoke is dangerous to the eyes. This tree is absolutely useless, that’s why we haven’t cut it.”
The disciples came back and told Lao Tzu. He laughed said, “Be like this tree. If you are useful you will be cut and you will become furniture in somebody’s house. If you are beautiful you will be sold in the market, you will become a commodity. Be like this tree, absolutely useless, and then you will grow big and vast and thousands of people will find shade under you.”