Parable made Real
There's an old story my teacher told once. What point he was illuminating at the time is lost to me right now. The story is as follows. A man was walking through the jungle and suddenly realized that he was being stalked by a huge tiger. He quickened his pace and started looking for a way to evade the beast. He saw a tree with branches pushing out over a sheer cliff only big enough for him. This refuge could keep the tiger at bay. He crawled out on the limb and settled in. The tiger came out into the open and paced around the base of the tree. Suddenly, the tree branch tore away from the tree and the man had to hang on for life. He looked down, thinking he could drop to the bottom of the cliff and survive but saw to his horror another tiger below him waiting for him to fall. He looked up to the edge of the cliff and saw the first tiger looking down at him and snarling. Horror above, horror below. He then saw a small wild strawberry plant within arms reach on the cliff with a ripe berry. He reached out, plucked the berry, and ate it with much happiness and relish.
So I was looking out the window in a downtown Tucson yoga studio, falling into the pain of my friends situation, when I noticed an ivy vine clinging to a high post outside. The sky was blue and gentle. The grey metal post was covered in an elegant vine of green ivy. Each leaf was so perfect and small. I could hear the cars go by and the people's voices outside. Inside the room all was quiet relief of corpse pose. I put myself in one of the curls of the ivy vine. I suddenly felt an enormous peace. In that space with the leaves and the sky and the post was utter stillness and peace. There was no war, no famine, no politics, no drama, no pain. The leaves were healthy despite the pollution of the cars and the dryness of the desert. I became so happy in that moment. It was remarkable. I plan on cultivating that feeling for the rest of my life. Since completing my year of care taking, I've had a lot of these sort's of first-time moments in regards to mental states. I'm still going up to DMU to serve when I can but I am free now to go when I need to. I'll go up tomorrow to deliver food. They are tucked into a long two month deep retreat period up there, I believe. This next year will be the quietest for them, I think. The time when some big meditative shifts will occur. It's very exciting.