Two mice

The following beautiful parable aptly illustrates the fleeting nature of life and its alluring pleasures.

A man was forcing his way through a thick forest beset with thorns and stones. Suddenly to his great consternation, an Tiger appeared and gave chase. He took to his heels through fear, and, seeing a well, he ran to hide in it. But to his horror he saw a viper at the bottom of the well. However, lacking other means of escape, he jumped into the well, and clung to a thorny creeper that was growing in it. Looking up, he saw two mice — a white one and a black one — gnawing at the creeper.

Over his face there was a beehive from which occasional drops of honey trickled.

This man, foolishly unmindful of this precarious position, was greedily tasting the honey. A kind person volunteered to show him a path of escape. But the greedy man begged to be excused till he had enjoyed himself.

The thorny path is samsāra, the ocean of life.

The Tiger here resembles death; the viper, old age; the creeper, birth; the two mice, night and day. The drops of honey correspond to the fleeting sensual pleasures. The man represents the so-called being. The kind person represents the Buddha.

The temporary material happiness is merely the gratification of some desire. When the desired thing is gained, another desire arises.


Doing it bare

They meditated just like the Buddha did. Stay in forests, beg for alms, practice in everyday things, follow the bare breath..all the way. Bare breath and nothing but breath. No reading, no writing, no extended conversations or socialization.

One of the Forest monks I met in the Santa Cruz mountains had panther marks all over his body. They face their lust, their anger, their fears in the bare..

During the first half of this century the forests of Thailand were home to wandering ascetic monks. They were Buddhists, but their brand of Buddhism did not copy the practices described in ancient doctrinal texts. Their Buddhism found expression in living day-to-day in the forest and in contending with the mental and physical challenges of hunger, pain, fear, and desire.

Forest recollections:  book on amazon