If You're Happy, Would You Know It?

Aug 11, 2009, 4:32 PM |

Here is a classic Zen story.

A monk was travelling across a wide-open field when he encountered a tiger. The monk ran. The tiger pursued.

Coming to a precipice, the monk caught hold of a vine and lowered himself over the edge. As the tiger continued menacing him from above, far below the monk noticed another tiger waiting for dinner to fall into its waiting jaws.

Only the vine spared the monk. But then two mice appeared, and began gnawing at the vine. The monk despaired for his life.

But then, out of the corner of his eye he spotted a luscious strawberry growing nearby.

Grasping the vine with one hand, he leaned over and plucked the strawberry with the other. How good that strawberry tasted!

The Buddha does not divulge the monk’s fate. Chances are it was resolved by a tiger.

However, neither vines, nor tigers, nor despair is the point of this parable. It’s about the strawberry. Strawberries don’t sprout out of precipice walls, you say. Botanically you may be correct.

But metaphorically, at times we all find ourselves chased over a precipice, caught between two predators, and/or a mouse-nibble away from being separated from our vines and tossed to hungry fate.

Under such stress, would you notice a luscious strawberry growing within your reach?

How about under stressful but less menacing circumstances, like a bad Monday at work?

If you’re happy in spite of everything that’s going on around you, would you know it?