A ZEN STORY TELLING THE ATTITUDE OF MINDFULNESS WITH RESPECT TO LIVING IN THE PRESENT AND LIVING IN A STATE OF GRATITUDE
An honor student, frustrated with his life and with school, worried about what tomorrow may bring, approached his teacher asking for some guidance.
“The story goes,” says the teacher in response to his students request for help, “That a Buddhist Monk was walking through the mountains one day. Then, out of nowhere, a tiger appears, chasing the monk towards the edge of a cliff. The monk, in his quest to escape the tiger, runs to the edge of the cliff and climbs over the side, where he sees five other tigers 15 feet below him, waiting to eat him.
The monk is just hanging there, holding on to a vine on the side of the cliff, waiting there for a chance to escape his imminent demise. Then, as the monk hangs there, exploring his options, he turns to the left and sees a strawberry.
He smiles, “Wow what a magnificent strawberry!” he says to himself. So, he picks it and he eats it.
The shocked student asks, “That’s it? That is it the story? Is the monk really stopping to pick and eat a strawberry?” the student exclaimed.
“What’s the point?” he added.
“The lesson is to know and embrace the experience of being alive. You must realize that you are alive every second that you are alive” replied the teacher.
“But teacher, everyone is alive when they are alive.” Said the student.
The teacher said, “No”. “It’s the experience of being alive in each moment, in each experience, good and bad. We must be alive every second we are alive and not simply exist and live out our days.”
The confused student questioned his teacher, asking, “But everyone alive is alive, aren’t they?” he insisted.
“No! Look at you now,” explained the teacher. “You run around being chased by tigers, consumed by your thoughts of how things can be better, and how you could be better. Also, you have shared with me over the past year several situations, in addition to the circumstances that I have observed, how you were about to be eaten by tigers and how you have been saved in each situation. How can we be alive when we are living in fear and if we can’t see and experience life; the magnificence of our live’s right in front of us in each moment are lost.”
It’s the experience of being alive in each moment, in each experience, good or bad! Be alive, don’t just exist!