wanting to assume that our lives are wholly unique and no moreso than in the daily troubles and problems we face, we have remarkably turned our backs on the wealth of knowledge of the thousands of years of learning and thinking and reflecting and suffering and loves and hates and joys that our ancestors not only experienced but occasionally documented. the selfish among us might even imagine that they did this as an act of kindness - perhaps to help us better manage the challenges that seem to await us ‘round every turn.
the two excerpts (from the very long time ago) presented here, are examples that with little reflection (but the more you spend thinking about them, the more fruit they bear) cast light on who we are as living beings granted a finite and relatively short amount of time in which to enhance and refine our selves before we too fly away ..........
a man was chased off a cliff by a tiger. he fell, and just managed to hold onto a branch. six feet above him stood the tiger, snarling. a hundred feet below, a violent sea lashed fierce-looking rocks. to his horror, he noticed that the branch he was clutching was being gnawed at its roots by two rats. seeing he was doomed, he cried out, "o lord, save me!"
he heard a voice reply, "of course, I will save you. but first, let go of the branch!"
[Traditional Sufi Story, this version from: Perfume of the Desert, Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom, compiled by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut, Quest Books, Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, 1999, p. 18]
The Man in the Wilderness - A Parable from The Mahabharata
From Stree Parva (The Book of Women)
a traveller, approaches a pit. he loses his judgement and leans over more than he should into the pit. he topples over and to save his life, grabs on to some protruding shoots. he looks down and sees poisonous snakes at the bottom of the pit, waiting to bite him to death. he thanks the good fortune, which prevented him from falling to the bottom of the pit to be bitten to death by the snakes, but then he sees the rats, who are gnawing at the roots, he is holding on to and then to his utter disappointment, he sees a mad elephant trying to uproot the very roots of the vegetation, he is holding on to. as luck would have it, he has uprooted a beehive and angry bees are stinging him, but in the process, quite a few drops of honey are dislodged. he reaches out and stretching his fingers as far as they can, he catches a few of these drops of honey and brings them to his lips.
even when faced with certain death, man still clings to life in all its forms.
the mahabharata is available online for free at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm
a film version (that i have seen in its six hour splendour and highly recommend) directed by the brilliant peter brooks can be reviewed here and purchased in most of the usual spots: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097810/
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