We have undertaken a study of the ancient teaching story originating, it is said, from Sufi sources in Central Asia. In addition to contemplating the story, or more properly parable, and reading commentary material from one who has himself worked with the parable in a practical way, we are working with an inner attentional exercise that correlates with some key elements indicated in the parable as well as various improvisation techniques designed to bring the various elements of the parable to the stage. That is to say, we aim to bring the story to life in a theatre setting.
The parable is this: A man is traveling through remote parts. His traveling companions are a wolf, a sheep and a cabbage. Without the presence of the man being there, it is certain that the wolf would, without delay, feast upon the sheep. Having said that, it is equally certain that sheep, given time, would eat the cabbage, being itself a vegetarian. In addition to discerning the way of the journey, the man must devote a portion of his attention to ensuring that all remains intact with his companions. Although it seems unlikely, the man needs the wolf, the sheep and the cabbage. They all serve a need.
One day they come to a river. The river is wide and swift with no apparent way to cross it. The man searches with his companions along the shore to find something. The wolf sniffs out a boat hidden in the reeds. It is a small boat, not big enough for them all. In fact, it will only allow for the man, who must pilot the boat, and one other of his companions. This is a challenge. The man is sure that he must cross this river.
The riddle is this: How does the man cross the river transporting all of his companions to the other side safely. He realizes that there are no hidden solutions. He has been given what is needed already: a boat big enough for only two at a time.
We will explore this parable in upcoming posts. For the time, we hope that you give some thinking energy to seeing your way across the river safely.