Zen Story: The Tiger and the Strawberry
“The story I’m about to tell you, originally told by the Buddha in a sutra, concerns a Zen Master who, while out walking one day, is confronted by a ferocious, man-eating tiger. He slowly backs away from the animal, only to find that he is trapped at the edge of a high cliff; the tiger snarls with hunger, and pursues the Master. His only hope of escape is to suspend himself over the abyss by holding onto a vine that grows at its edge. As the Master dangles from the cliff, two mice – one white and one black – begin to gnaw on the vine he is clutching on. If he climbs back up, the tiger will surely devour him, if he stays then there is the certain death of a long fall onto the jagged rocks. The slender vine begins to give way, and death is imminent. Just then the precariously suspended Zen Master notices a lovely ripe wild strawberry growing along the cliff’s edge. He plucks the succulent berry and pops it into his mouth. He is heard to say: “This lovely strawberry, how sweet it tastes.” ~Zen Story: The Tiger and the Strawberry
Among many interpretations to this story, which include the tiger as representative of the past and the jagged rocks far below as the future, it is the strawberry—the present—on which this blog will be focusing. The strawberries that strewn the natural paths we take, as well as the strawberries we grow and cultivate in our own garden of life.
Women’s lifestyle site A New Mode writers/founders Sabrina Alexis and Eric Charles stress over and over in their relationship articles that the key to a successful relationship is a person’s mindset. She needs to be satisfied with herself, interested in her own work and hobbies, happy with who she is, how she feels about herself, and what she has to offer the world. I recently read an article about 66-year-old model Cindy Joseph. What a wonderful example of womanhood! A woman who embraces her older age and even uses it to her advantage. A woman who understands the importance of taking the time to build pleasurable experiences in life, to smell the roses, to taste the strawberries.
Many years ago, I took an East Meets West class at a junior college where we studied Eastern philosophy through literature. The one story that stuck out to me the most was the one I shared with you above, The Tiger and the Strawberry. It’s important that you savor the strawberry, no matter what’s going on in your life. You’re always going to have pressures of decision and circumstance. There’s no magical time when those will go away, so look for the strawberry in whatever situation you are in and embrace it. Make time for it. Luxuriate in it. The strawberries you collect and enjoy will give you the mindset you need to feel contentment and become more attractive to yourself and to others.
“This lovely strawberry, how sweet it tastes.”
The Strawberry Challenge:
A New Mode writers stress the importance of keeping a journal to record your feelings, frustrations, and elations as you navigate the world of romance and relationships. This helps you to assess your emotions, work out the source of your doubts, fears, and frustrations, and record your excitement and good experiences — the strawberries you collect along the way — for delicious perusal later on. A journal can come in many forms: the traditional pen-and-paper bound journal, a document on your laptop, a blog, a vlog, a YouTube channel, an Instagram account, voice recordings … There’s an app for each of these modes. Actively create and search for opportunities to enjoy the strawberries in your daily experiences. Today, start a strawberry journal of your romantic journey.
What are ways you create and search for the strawberries in your daily life? In your misadventures? In your quest for romance? Please share in the comments section below. We all need a sweet taste of quiet indulgence now-and-again in our busy, frenetic lives.