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Parable of the Strawberry


Reading Fishing for the Moon by Lulu Hansen has given me little mental exercises that I can work on either daily or weekly. One parable, or 公案, is Parable of the Strawberry. Supposedly written by Bodhidharma, this translation of the sutra goes like this:


"A man was wandering in the wilderness when a tiger appeared and began to chase him. Panicked, he fled to the edge of the cliff with the beast on his heels. Spotting a thorny vine rooted on the rock, he swung himself down over the chasm.


Above, the tiger howled and pawed at the rock; below, were the gaping jaws of a second tiger. Suddenly, a white mouse and a black mouse appeared and began to gnaw at the vine but the man did not notice. He had found a plump, red strawberry growing on the face of the cliff. With one hand he plucked the fruit and popped it into his dry mouth.


How sweet it was!"


To me, this seems to be talking about making the most out of a bad situation, he's trapped with no where to go but finds a strawberry in the midst of it all. The strawberry seems to be the little enjoyment or the positive that can always be found no matter how bad things get.


That would be my assumed meaning if the mice didn't show up. The mice seem to make the situation worse as soon the vine will break and the man a victim to the tigers. The man doesn't notice the mice and instead is focusing on the strawberry. The meaning then shifts to negligence, how the man's decisions and focus has gotten him into this bad decision. The tiger was one problem that he avoided with the vine which itself is a problem as it not only leads to the second tiger but the vine hangs him from a cliff. Soon the mice appear creating the final problem. Because of this, maybe the meaning is that our actions have consequences or that we shouldn't let our problems pile up.


I'm not sure but I'll see what others have to say about it.


Have a good day,


Johnny

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