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Manav was arrested and thrown into a dark dungeon.  No one told him what his crime was.  When they hurled him into the dark cell whose door shut with a bang, all that he could see was a beam of light passing through a slit-like ventilator at the top of one of the walls.  Silence and darkness enveloped him.

He stretched his body and touched the narrow sill of the ventilator.  He pulled himself up and looked out through the ventilator.  The light outside helped dispel some of his gloom. 

He spent most of his time and energy doing the same thing day after day, without once caring to explore the darkness in the cell. 

If only he had explored the darkness, he would have discovered that the door was not locked.

What stood between him and his freedom was his obstinate clinging to the narrow slit.

Acknowledgement: This parable is adapted from Sheldon B. Kopp’s book, If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!

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  1. Wow ! Such a nice parable. I haven't read the book.. would you recommend.. what is it about ?

    1. The subtitle of the book is: "The Pilgrimage of Psychotherapy Patients". the author takes examples from classical literary works such as Shakespeare's Othello, Kafka's K, and Don Quixote to analyse certain psychological problems of people in quest of meaning in life. The author's basic premise is that an adult cannot be a disciple: hence kill the Buddha (that's Zen koan). Neither a spiritual guru nor a psychotherapist can reveal your truth; you have to discover it for yourself, the guru and the therapist can be lamp posts on the way...

      the book is fairly good. On a scale of 5, I'd give it 3.5 rating. The problem is that there's a tendency for the author to seek popularity at times... Secondly, the book was published in 1972 and psychology has undergone much change after that.

  2. Replies
    1. Exactly, Anita. That's just the point. Now, please transfer the metaphor to our life!

  3. And this is how we miss out.on life... We cling to one thing and forget that there's a whole different world ... a different aspect of life.

    1. Let me quote Kopp: "... we are defeated not only by the narrowness of our perspectives, and our fear of the darkness..."

  4. Nice parable..

    How we miss things in life..sigh..

    1. A whole big world remains unexplored because of our clinging to something...

  5. I so agree with the author's disdain to cling to the last leaf . But that makes me wonder what pushes us into this myopia. Is it our upbringing, the society and environment or the collective acceptance of grandness of life while on the contrary it is simple.

    1. People have the herd mentality, Bushra. They follow the majority. And the majority view today is that wealth is the only value, external beauty is what matters, and so on. If we stand out of that, as you say, life becomes much easier - much simpler at least.


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