Keeping the Faith: The power of now

mcbrayer

Ronnie McBrayer

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 11:13 AM.

There is a Zen parable about a man who surprised a sleeping tiger while walking through the jungle. The ferocious animal pursued the man, causing him to throw down his bag and walking stick, as he ran for his life.

With the tiger tightly on his heels, the man came to a steep cliff. He saw a vine dangling over the edge, quickly grabbed it, and began shimmying down the vine just narrowly escaping the teeth of the tiger who now leered hungrily at him from the rim above.

This put the traveler in a real predicament. He was high in the air with no place to go. The vicious tiger was overhead; jagged rocks were below; and he was clinging to a vine that was not nearly long enough to lower him to the ground. Then, as if things could not be more dire, a mouse emerged from its den and began to nibble at the vine.

At this precise moment the traveler saw a perfect, plump strawberry right there within arm’s reach, growing out of the face of the cliff. He picked it, ate it, and exclaimed, “Wow!!! That is the best strawberry I’ve ever tasted in my entire life!”

The story ends there (leaving the man hanging in a lurch), but the lesson keeps going: If the man had been preoccupied with the rocks below (his possible future), or the tiger above (his past troubles), or the mouse chewing away at the vine (his vanishing present), he would have missed the strawberry within the present moment.

He would have missed the joy of now.

Now: There are few words with more potency but hardly a word more fallow or underutilized, because most of us do not live “in the now.” We don’t even aspire to live in the broader category of “today,” having traded the present for a regretful past or a fearful future — a trade that leaves no life left to live.



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