There is a parable about a poor man walking through the woods reflecting upon his many troubles. He stopped to rest against a tree, a magical tree that would instantly grant the wishes of anyone who came in contact with it. He realized he was thirsty and wished for a drink. Instantly a cup of cool water was in his hand. Shocked, he looked at the water, he decided it was safe and drank it. He then realized he was hungry and wished he had something to eat. A meal appeared before him.
“My wishes are being granted,” he thought in disbelief. “Well, then I wish for a beautiful home of my own,” he said out loud. The home appeared in the meadow before him. A huge smile crossed his face as he wished for servants to take care of the house. When they appeared he realized he had somehow been blessed with an incredible power and he wished for a beautiful, loving, intelligent woman to share his good fortune.
“Wait a minute, this is ridiculous,” said the man to the woman. “I’m not this lucky. This can’t happen to me.” As he spoke…everything disappeared. He shook his head and said,”I knew it,” then walked away thinking about his many troubles.
Is it possible that this reflects our own actions in our lives?
I think many of us may wish for more happiness, more peace, more material possessions. But they are in fact already right in front of us.
Perhaps like the man in the story, we do not believe we deserve them. Or perhaps we just do not open our eyes to see all the blessing already present in our life.
We only want more because we don’t see clearly. This is the ignorance (avijja) that Buddha spoke of. Now combine that with desire (tanha), and you have really gotten yourself a good foothold in samsara.
OK, too many Pali words for you? Well, simply put, if you keep on being blind to reality and always wanting more, you will continue in a vicious cycle of dis-satisfactory existence. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have your good moments, but this will be fleeting and only continues the cycle of grasping (upadana).
So let us all take a lesson from the traveler in the woods.
It’s all here for us right now!
May you be well, happy and peaceful.