A Wood of trees growing together can get the branches interlaced so that the trees support each other. Even if the root has become very shallow, the whole thing looks like a stable structure, a sort of table with many legs. But because there are no deep roots, it all collapses helplessly in a storm. A society or group, says a seventeenth-century Zen master, can be like these. The various elements support each other by a system of conventions accepted by all, for no other reason than that they have always been accepted. T
here may be no deep roots of conviction anywhere, but that society can look very stable. It is, however, no longer creative, and it too collapses before any sudden crisis.
In somewhat the same way, an individual personality can apparently hold together firmly, because the parts support each other. But this lasts only so long as times are good. Unless roots of spiritual conviction are put down, the whole structure is brittle and hollow and falls to pieces in a storm.