One of my favorite zen stories is the one about the tiger, the cliff and the strawberry. I’m not sure how many of you know it, but it’s one of those stories that really speaks to me about the paradox of life and the sweetness of the moment.
More often than we think, life presents us with unsolvable problems.
One of those problems could be a grave illness. Perhaps, one of those that don’t even debilitate you at first. You begin by going to a doctor, getting tests run, the results confirm that bit of bad news you were worried about. You run to find some remedy. You begin to worry and fret about the future, where will this thing take you. And there’s your first tiger.
You begin to search out the malady on the internet, reading up on symptoms, statistics and cures, alternative and allopathic and there you are hanging by a vine over a cliff.
At one point, maybe the cure itself will create different problems, issues which may or may not be worth the pain and effort, theoretically. But there’s no other road except refusing. There’s the tiger at the bottom of the cliff.
You can’t go up, you can’t let yourself go.
Finally, the worry gnaws at your mind, just like the mice gnaw at the vine of our hero. Your existence is no longer centered on life as you focus on the issue.
This is the time for you begin looking for the beauty of things you’d taken for granted. Something happens. A bright moment distracts you … and like the strawberry, you find that moment of sweetness in life. It doesn’t solve your problems it’s just a magical moment that makes life worth living again.
Over the years, I’ve experienced this situation, in its variations, very often. Economical problems, bad emotional situations or maybe just the prospect of having to move once again. Life, isn’t like a movie, which is a concentration of special events, it’s lot’s of insignificant moments, very often boring, sometimes lonely, with moments of special events slipped in here and there – both good or bad.
Like our hero, we must see the strawberry, ready to be plucked. It’s there and it’s we who choose to taste its sweetness.
tiger claws above
another tiger below
sweet strawberry tempts
Written for Ligo Haibun – Picture Prompts
image by belindabroughton