The frightened man was running away from tigers. He ran and ran, and the tigers were getting closer and closer. When he came to the edge of a cliff, he saw some vines there, so he climbed down and held on to the vines. Looking down, he saw that there were tigers below him as well. He then noticed a mouse was gnawing away at the vine to which he was clinging. He also saw a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to him, growing out of a clump of grass.
He looked up, and he looked down. He looked at the mouse. Then he took a strawberry, put it in his mouth, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Tigers above. Tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we’re always in, in terms of birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life, it might be the only strawberry we will ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.
When we face the tigers and open our heart to things as they are, we come to rest in the present moment. Only in this moment can we taste the strawberries and discover that which is timeless. Then we hold our own joy and suffering as inseparable. We honor the sacredness in both emptiness and form. We see it all as the dance of spirit, we hold it all with ease and humor, and we are at peace with it all.
The ocean of life rises and falls within us – birth and death, joy and pain, it’s all ours and our heart is full and empty, large enough to embrace it all. When we have faced death and aloneness, we are unafraid to live and life flowers under our feet.