Sunday, June 10, 2012

Not Zen 9: Determination

A young lion, driven out of the pride by his father, wandered far in search of game.  He found that the calves in the territory of a wealthy, ranching family were easy kills.  But when the ranch owner noticed his two youngest calves had gone missing, he walked the bounds of his land and located the young predator in the grassy hills.

He pointed at the beast and, since his oldest grandsons were with him, he ordered them to go out and slay it.

"Take my armor, spears and knives.  You are strong enough and fast enough."

But the grandsons feared the lion and the lion could sense their cowardice.

As the young men dressed for battle, the lion crept onto a rock overlooking them and said, "One of those spears looks like it's about to break.  I could bite it in two.  Which of you will get the good spear and which the bad, I wonder?"

The two young men, eager for an excuse to avoid danger, fell to petty arguing.  They never hunted for the lion that day.  When their grandfather found out, he was angry and blamed their father.

"It's your duty now, son.  You must gather your brother and your cousins and explain what has happened.  Ask them to bring their weapons, too.  Then do the job yourselves."

A day later, the middle aged men gathered.  Many of them were leaders of the village.  They were proud.  As they dressed to slay the young lion, the lion watched from the other side of the creek.

"That armor doesn't fit well, does it?" said the lion.  "It was meant for smaller men, I think.  It doesn't cover your necks.  Yes, I think I can get at your necks easily enough.  And are those shields wicker? Ho, ho.  You might as well use a fan.  I would enjoy a cool breeze as I run amongst you."

One of the men agreed that the armor did not fit him properly.  He announced that he was going back to his home to find better protection.  Soon, another man decided the same.  In a short time, the ranch owner's son was left alone.  He eyed the lion from across the stream and decided he didn't want to cross the water in his armor.

"Are you all imbeciles or cowards?" shouted the grandfather when his family told him the news.  "The beast is not even fully grown."

"I'm sorry, father," said the son, ashamed.

"I have to do everything myself."  The old rancher grabbed a spear from the wall and stomped out of his house.  Although he was white haired, he was still a strong fellow and he knew his lands well. From the lay of the grass, he could tell that the young lion had crept up the nearest hill overlooking the cattle herd.  The rancher marched directly at the predator.

"Now this man is in earnest," the lion said to himself.  It worried him, especially since he'd been trying to hide and the rancher had spotted him immediately.  His opponent seemed smart and determined.  So the lion attempted to intimidate the rancher in the same manner he'd used with his grandsons and sons.

"Don't you want to fetch your armor?" he called.

"That's only for men who haven't killed lions before," replied the rancher.

In the face of the steady advance, the lion turned and fled.

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