The Poisoned Arrow: A Story on Dealing with the Here and Now

Posted: December 8, 2014 in Stories
Tags: , , , ,

I ran into a friend at a coffee shop the other day, and she told me this story which I recalled hearing sometime before but that had never made it into my collection of tales that I tell.  That’s about to change…. now.  Kind of.

OK, perhaps it’s not quite telling it if I post a link to 3 versions of the story (each about a paragraph long– it’s a short little guy), but we’ll call it a virtual telling.

It’s a traditional Buddhist parable about dealing with our lives in the here and now.  Given how short it is, some embellishment and extra detail can be helpful in bringing the story to life when you tell it.

Application Notes:

  • Ask your listeners about a time that they felt hurt (emotionally) by someone in their lives.  Then ask– after it happened, what were the thoughts going through their mind?
    • Chances are the majority of the thoughts were something like:  why did that person do this? I can’t believe they…  They always…  Well, they’ll be sorry when I …
    • Probably very few, if any, thoughts went into the exploration of things like: exactly why that action by that person caused that reaction in the listener’s mind; or what the nature of that reaction truly is; or how does one skillfully work with such a reaction to ease one’s own suffering, rather than being “right” or getting back at the perceived perpetrator.
  • So that then leads into a discussion of how ineffectively we often deal with our own suffering, because we’re looking “out there” or fixating on the past or the future– meanwhile, our suffering is happening right HERE, right NOW.  And what do we do with that?  In steps mindfulness…
  • Note that this isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for clearly addressing injustices (to ourselves and others) that come from “out there,” or that digging into the past can’t be tremendously helpful when dealing with suffering (e.g. some forms of psychotherapy).  It’s just saying that our minds tend to over-emphasize the one approach, and we could greatly benefit from the other approach as well–a more mindful, present-centered one.

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