"What would you do?"
A great story is relayed in Christina Feldman's book, The Buddhist Path to Simplicity...
"A young boy once asked his mother, "What would you do if you imagined you were surrounded by a pack of hungry tigers with no one to save you?" His mother answered, "I don't know. What would you do?" He answered, "I'd stop pretending."
Wow! What an amazing and simple solution! Our imagination can carry our thoughts so far away from our present we forget it is made up. Our imaginations love questions like the one above, yet our usual response is something more like "I would climb a tree. No! Tigers can climb. I would look for food to throw them and run. No there are too many so maybe I would play dead. Well, I can see in my head that doesn't work as one is prodding me with a paw. Maybe they are friendly and I could talk them into looking for food with me..." and on and on. And when our imagination gets worked up so do our bodies. We react as though the illusions were real. And who needs added stress and fear from a made up scenario? Umm, no one.
But how do we remember to bring our thoughts back out of made up land? We need something tangible.
This reminds me of the Zen story where "a man is enjoying himself on a river at dusk. He sees another boat coming down the river toward him. At first it seems so nice to him that someone else is also enjoying the river on a nice summer evening. Then he realizes that the boat is coming right toward him, faster and faster. He begins to yell, “Hey, hey, watch out! For Pete’s sake, turn aside!” But the boat just comes right at him faster and faster. By this time he’s standing up in his boat, screaming and shaking his fist, and then the boat smashes right into him. He sees that it’s an empty boat."
What an expense of energy through anger for nothing. It is the same as when we allow our minds to take off on their own creating a million possible endings to our current situation. And, the funny thing is that none of them are real. Do not give away your power and do allow the tigers to become real.
Teilhard de Chardin writes, "It doesn't matter if the water is cold or warm if you're going to have to wade through it anyway."
We have to move forward through life as it unfolds before us so why waste time and energy trying to guess what's coming or worrying about the decisions that are ahead. Stay present. It may be through the breath, it may be stopping to touch the earth, it may be something else that works for you.
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