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The true nature of human existence (Part 1)

April 2, 2018

 

The Buddha says, this is YOU!

 

Here Sakyamuni Buddha paints a compelling picture of human existence. Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy was so impressed with this story from the Parable Sutra that he wrote, “No other story offers such an unvarnished portrayal of the human condition. This is no mere fiction, but universally convincing fact.” Centuries have passed since Sakyamuni recounted “The True Nature of Human Existence” in one of his sermons, but it remains as relevant as ever today.

 

Millions of years ago, a traveler plodded alone across a vast, grassy plain. It was a dreary autumn evening, and a chill wind blew. As he hurried along the dim path, all at once he noticed a scattering of white objects and came to a stop, wondering what they could be. He picked one up and was startled to discover that it was a human bone. What were so many bones doing in a such a place? Filled with eerie dread, he pondered the question. 

 

 

Soon from the darkness ahead he heard the sound of steps and a strange growling sound. He peered into the gloom and made out the distant figure of a fierce tiger, maddened by starvation, racing straight at him. Instantly the meaning of the bones became clear. Other travelers, passing this way like him, must have been devoured by the tiger. Instinctively he sensed that he was in the same situation. Terrified, he ran back the way he had come, desperate to escape the tiger's jaws. 

 

 But no human can outrun a tiger. Before long he felt the tiger 's terrible hot breath at his back, and knew that he was done for. At that very moment he realized he must have taken a wrong turn, for the path ended abruptly in a sharp cliff. He was trapped. 

 

The traveler was in despair, but fortunately he spotted a vine hanging from the bottom of a tree at the edge of the cliff. The true nature of human existence Here Sakyamuni Buddha paints a compelling picture of human existence. Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy was so impressed with this story from the Parable Sutra that he wrote, “No other story offers such an unvarnished portrayal of the human condition. This is no mere fiction, but universally convincing fact.” Centuries have passed since Sakyamuni recounted “The True Nature of Human Existence” in one of his sermons, but it remains as relevant as ever today. Needless to say, he grabbed hold of the vine and lowered himself as far as he could. The tiger, frustrated at seeing its prey get away, let out a terrible cry. 

 

 The traveler had narrowly escaped with his life. “Good grief,” he murmured. “It's a lucky thing this vine was here, or that would have been an end of me. Now I can breathe easy.” Then he glanced down, and couldn't keep from gasping in shock. Lapping the base of the cliff were the angry billows of a bottomless sea. Nor was that all. In the waves were three dragons, waiting with their bright red mouths wide open for him to fall. In horror he clung tighter to the vine and shuddered. 

 

But after awhile the traveler began to feel hungry, and looked around for something to eat. That's when he made his most horrifying discovery of all. Two mice, one white and one black, were circling the root of the vine, gnawing at it in turns. It was only a matter of time before one of them, the white one or the black one, would bite through and sever the vine. 

 

The doomed traveler's face turned pale, his teeth chattered, and he shook uncontrollably— but not for long. Honeybees had made a hive at the base of the vine, and now drops of sweet honey fell into his mouth. Just like that, his heart captivated by the luscious honey, the traveler forgot the terror of his plight.

 

To be continued tomorrow...

 

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #02 | 2011, The true nature of human existence (Part 1)

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