The man clinging to the roots of a tree

1001 Tales Discourses

“If you can live in the present, the taste is tremendously sweet. This is the way to live, this is the only way to live – otherwise you will not be living,” states Osho. From our series 1001 Tales, compiled by Shanti.

Bee hive, honey dripping

There is a beautiful Buddhist parable of many meanings. All the meanings are beautiful, but today try to understand it in one certain meaning.

In a forest a man is running, trying to escape from a lion who is following him, chasing him.

The man comes to a precipice. There is no other way to go, so he stops. For a single moment he doesn’t know what to do. He looks down. It is a very deep valley, a great abyss. If he jumps he is gone. But still there is a possibility for him – miracles happen. So he looks down more closely and there, deep in the valley, two more lions are standing, looking up. So that possibility is finished.

The lion is coming closer, roaring; the man can hear the roar. His only possibility is to hang from the roots of a tree sticking out over the valley. He cannot jump and he cannot stand on the precipice, so he holds onto the roots of the tree. The roots are very fragile and he is afraid that at any moment they will break. Not only that, it is a very cold evening, night is gathering, and the sun is going down. And his hands are so cold that he is afraid he will not be able to hold on for long.

Already the roots are slipping out of his hands. They are frozen. Death is certain. Each moment death is there.

Then he looks up. Two mice are chewing through the roots of the tree. One is white and one is black, the symbol of day and night, the symbol of time. Time is running out fast and the two mice are chewing through the roots and they are really doing a great job. They are almost at the end, they are just going to finish – it is evening and they have also to go and rest, so they are finishing in a hurry. Any moment the root will break away from the tree.

The man looks up again and there on the tree is a beehive out of which honey is dropping.

He forgets all and tries to catch a drop on his tongue and he succeeds.

And the taste is really sweet.

If you can live in the present, the taste is tremendously sweet. It is really beautiful… This is the way to live, this is the only way to live – otherwise you will not be living. Each moment… this is the situation.

The parable is really very existential. You are the man clinging to the root of the tree, surrounded everywhere by death, with time running out. Any moment you will drop into death and disappear. Now what to do? Worry about the past? Worry about the future? Worry about death? Worry about time? Or enjoy this moment?

Quote by Osho from Tao: The Pathless Path – Talks on extracts from ‘The Book of Lieh Tzu’, Vol 2, Ch 3 (excerpt)

Our series 1001 Tales has been compiled by Shanti

Comments are closed.