On the Wisdom of No Escape

A story, from the chapter on joy in Pema Chödrön’s book The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness:

“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs, and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

So, these are the challenges in life, in order of increasing difficulty:

1. Realizing that there are tigers.

2. Realizing that there are vines.

3. Realizing that there is a mouse.

4. Realizing that there are strawberries.

5. Having the presence of mind to eat the strawberries.

6. Having the presence of mind to enjoy them.

Most days, I’m at 1. and 3. On good days I’m at 2., 4. and 5. On exceptional days, I manage to arrive at 6.

Today was a good day for me. How was it for you?


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