There is a man is walking through the jungle. As he is going along he realizes that a tiger is stalking him. Seeing a cliff nearby, he runs over to the edge and begins to lower himself down by some strong vines that had been growing there. The tiger has run after him and now stands glaring and growling at him from above. The man continues to lower himself on the vine till he hears a growl from below him. Looking down, he sees another tiger, standing on the ground, looking up at him expectantly. Now, he stops and doesn’t know what to do. There is a tiger above him and one below him. Both tigers lay down to wait. What is he to do? Then, as he looks up again at the tiger he has just escaped from, he sees a rat, gnawing at the vine he is hanging on. He realizes that it will be all over soon. He hangs there without hope. As he ponders the situation, he looks out and sees some wild grapes growing on the cliff. He reaches out and plucks one. He puts it in his mouth. ‘Wow’, he thinks, ‘that is delicious’.
This is a picture of human life. Walking through the jungle of existence we are threatened by death. That is the first tiger. We run and try to escape, going over a cliff where we think the tiger cannot follow. We are right, that tiger cannot follow, but there is another tiger down below. They both lie down to wait. We are caught, there is no escape from death. But, at least we are ‘OK’ where we are. We can persist where we are. That too, is not true. We notice that the rat of inexorable time is gnawing at the support of our life. We are getting older, things are changing, everything will be taken away from us and we will inevitably die. But of course, in the midst of this situation, there is pleasure to be had. These are the grapes growing on the cliffs; ambition, goals, emotions, feelings, things, experiences, people and so on. This ability to be distracted (by the grapes) is the gift of life, but is there something more to it?