A solitary crane
In winter snow
Needs no jewels.
A single crane standing unconcerned in the falling snow is the very image of independence. It needs no one, it is secure in its environment, and it is capable of going through life alone. Its independence stems from self-sufficiency.
It needs no clothing, no building, no wealth, no status. It is content, even glorious in its naked identity. So too with ourselves: There is no need for dazzling clothes, an impressive career, an awesome temple, nor a bejeweled master. What we want is something far beyond such externals.
What facets of your personality are encumbrances? What personal aspects prevent you from being independent? These are the areas that will define your self-cultivation, for you must strive to stand alone. This doesn’t mean that you won’t ever join with others, but you will do so as an individual who will cooperate just as much as is necessary. In this way, you will never be lost in a group, and you will never fear being alone.