Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Tiger and the Mantis - A Zen Tale

"The Tiger and the Mantis - A Zen Tale"
© Marcus Alden Meredith, November 2010

The Tiger was well known in the deep forests of China for being the fastest animal. He could rush out from from any hiding spot at a great speed. He could almost out race his own growl and roar it was said. All the creatures of the forest feared the speed and ferocity of the Tiger. The Tiger was very proud of his strength and stamina. There were none in the bamboo forests that could defeat him.

One day while walking through the tall, dewy grass in the morning to track down his breakfast, he caught a sound that he had not heard before. The buzzing was not something he recognized... and it grew louder and louder each second. Suddenly, a Mantis landed upon the Tiger's nose. He was panting from having flown in the heavy morning air and was dripping with dew drops on his hard shell body.

"Pardon me, Lord Tiger for landing on your nose but I have been having difficulty flying in the heavy morning air and..."
But before the Mantis could finish his explanation, the Tiger yelled, "Get off! Get off me now!" Then he shook his head so hard the the Mantis was flipped up into the air. Proud of his strength as usual, the Tiger began to smile. But while flying through the air, the Mantis effortlessly somersaulted in mid air, spread his six legs and landed upon the Tiger's left ear.

"Please wait, Lord Tiger and let me ask a gracious favor that I might..."

"Get off, insolent insect!" and shook his might head again now from side to side. "Get oooofffff!" he yelled again.

But this time the Mantis held on with his forelimbs and said again, " Mighty Lord Tiger let me ex...."

Too late. The mighty Tiger began to run through the grass. The blades struck the Mantis as the Tiger ran. But the Mantis held fast. Faster and faster the might Tiger ran and every time he sped up, the Mantis dug the tines of his forelimbs deeper and deeper into the Tiger's left ear.

"Oooooofff I say!" the Tiger kept yelling. The Tiger ran through one field, then a grove of trees, then another deeper field and on and on. The Elephants stopped dead in their tracks as the Tiger ran past them. The Water Buffaloes scattered and the Deer fled but were amazed that the Tiger was not after them. Faster and faster and faster he went.

"Please off me! I'M .... GETTING.... TIRED!!" he yelled again and again. " JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!" he yelled like a child... and all the while the Mantis was firmly attached.

Finally the Tiger slowed and stopped.... panting heavily with each moment. And then...

He just fell down on all fours in the tall, dewy grass trying to catch his breath and exhausted from the fastest running he had ever done in his life....

And still the Mantis was there on his left ear.

After a moment, the Mantis let go, deftly scrambled over the Tiger's head to his nose, turned and looked him in the eyes. Then, he bowed a deep bow, and said, "Oh Mighty Lord Tiger, my apologies for what must have startled you. I merely wanted to ask permission to dry myself in your lustrous coat of fur so that I might remove the heavy dew that was keeping me from flying off and had put me on your nose. I meant no disrespect of your might form."

The Tiger was astounded at the grace and courtesy of the Mantis. He now felt bad about being so short with the Mantis. "Is that all you desired? I would gladly have let you had I known you were such a gracious insect. Why had you not told me so?"

Still gracious, the Mantis said, "Lord Tiger, I did try but perhaps you could not hear me over the wind in your ears. Perhaps I should have spoken louder but that is not my way."

Now the Tiger felt quite sheepish and that he had done the Mantis a great wrong. "My apologies to YOU Great Mantis. I had perceived you as a problem and was running to get rid of you."

The Mantis, now dry from the wind from the Tiger's great run, bowed deeply once again, spread his wings, and prepared to fly away. "My Lord Tiger, I am a Mantis, with arms that catch the fastest fly and climb the highest trees with no fear. You cannot run away from me any more than you can run away from any problem in life."

And with this, the Mantis flew off into the morning light of dappled shadows in the forest canopy. The Tiger remained in the grass... meditating on what truth the Mantis had just revealed to him.

Labels: , , , , ,