It was the coldest winter ever--so cold that many animals froze to death.
In an effort to save themselves from this icy fate, the porcupines decided to gather together to fend off the chill. They huddled close to each other--covered and protected from the elements--and were warmed by their collective body heat.
But their prickly quills proved to be a bit of a problem in close proximity--they poked and stabbed each other, wounding their closest companions.
The warmth was wonderful, but the mutual needling became increasingly uncomfortable. Eventually, they began to distance themselves one from the other, scattering throughout the forest only to end up alone and freezing cold. Many died.
It soon became clear that they would have to choose between solitary deaths in the frigid wilderness and the discomfort of being needled by their companions’ quills when they banded together. Wisely, they decided to return to the huddle. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their fellows, in order to benefit from the collective heat they generated as a group. In this way they were able to survive.
Possible morals of the story:
One realm we have never conquered--the pure present. One great mystery of time is terra incognita to us--the instant. The most superb mystery we have hardly recognized--the immediate, instant self.
I am Myohye Do'an, a bhikṣu (fully ordained Chán Buddhist monk) and Chán Master. Here I share my thoughts and observations about living a life of compassion, attention and gratitude.