Once upon a time there were three bears...
A Papa bear...
A Mama bear...
And a bear with Beginner's Mind.
The three bears apparently sat down to have breakfast one morning. Papa Bear declared, "My chair is too hard."
Mama Bear sat in her seat and complained, "My chair is too soft."
And the open-minded little Baby Bear who attached to no such concepts as "too hard" or "too soft," happily pronounced his little chair to be "just right."
The bears shifted their attention (for that is what mind does) to the bowls of cooked cereal that lay before them.
Papa Bear declared, "My porridge is too hot!"
Mama Bear tried hers. "My porridge is too cold!"
Baby Bear, whose understanding was prior to the world of opposites which is the world of suffering, had no such polarity of mind. "My porridge is just right," he said, totally loving what is.
Stunned by that koan, the ursine elders stopped eating and their attention moved to taking a walk. Imprisoned in the "I-Know" mind, they hoped that when they returned, things would be more to their liking. And Little Bear ambled along behind them, in flow, completely in the Now.
While they were gone, life happened, as it is wont to do. Goldilocks, who was making her way through the dense forest of her beliefs, had the stressful thought that she was tired and hungry, and attaching to that thought, she compromised her integrity by breaking and entering the bears' home. Her belief in "fatigue" led her to the bears' chairs. She found Papa Bear's chair to be too hard, and Mama Bear's chair to be too soft. Mind's job is to be right, and Goldilocks did not know how to question what she believed. Had she done so, she might have realized she was not tired at all, since a truly tired person would have gratefully sunken into any chair. Alas, she who knows, knows not. So the unknowning Goldilocks, who "knew" that Baby Bear's chair was the one for her, sat in it and broke it.
Suddenly forgetting all about her fatigue, her thoughts turned to food. Rather than welcoming and feeling the sensation of hunger or investigating the thought prior to the feeling, she un-mindfully tucked into Papa Bear's porridge. As she did so, she felt her mouth on fire and, like Papa Bear before her, christened the cereal "too hot." The whole world might agree, and yet she did not ask herself if it were true; thus, she suffered.
Goldilocks moved to Mama Bear's porridge, which she found to be too cold. So many conditions! Was she hungry or not? No matter, for Goldilocks was at war with reality, convinced that there was something better than This Now. Holding that belief, she polished off Little Bear's "just right" porridge and called it wisdom.
Sated (for the moment, because the feeling of fullness would soon pass and the wheel of samsara would spin once more), Goldilocks remembered that she believed she was tired and she moved to the bears' bedroom. She found Papa Bear's bed to be too hard (was she tired or not?), and Mama Bear's bed to be too soft (too soft to support her body? Too soft to be a bed? Too soft in this moment? Nothing exists that is not Shiva, except for this bed???). The last stop was Baby Bear's little bed, and the I-Know mind, needing proof and running out of alternatives, deemed it "just right." Soon Goldilocks, already asleep, was asleep in a different way, dreaming a different kind of dream but no less of a dream than the waking one.
Soon afterwards, the Bear Family returned to their ransacked home. Papa Bear growled, "Someone's been sitting in my chair." Could he absolutely know this was true? It wasn't the way he remembered having left it, and mind is an unreliable narrator. On borrowed interest, Mama Bear said, "Someone's been sitting in my chair!" This brought her the strange satisfaction of agreement, which only serves to validate the ego...until the first argument, that is. Then the story changes to "My husband doesn't understand me," "I want a divorce," and "Who keeps the house?"
Baby Bear, noticing his broken chair, exclaimed, "Somebody's been sitting in my chair (true enough, for he had sat in it himself just prior to leaving their home), and it's broken!" (Which it was, in the sense of relative reality where things are said to be broken or whole.)
Then Papa Bear looked into his bowl of porridge. "Somebody has been eating my porridge," he roared. ("Who is it who has been eating what?" He neglected to ask himself, in all innocence. We all would ask these questions if only we knew how.) An adherent of Bear Lore, Mama Bear repeated his mantra, "Somebody has been eating my porridge!" Baby Bear, seeing that his bowl was empty, had no proof that his portion of porridge had in fact been eaten all up or that it had ever existed in the first place. However, out of kindness, he spoke as if he too believed in the illusion, because true Love joins with its mirror image. Between "porridge" and "not porridge," Baby Bear's life flowed peacefully. It was not for him to push others beyond their evolution.
Not so with his parents. They proceeded to the bedroom, still wanting to be right. Papa Bear, noticing his quilt was askew, accused someone of having slept in his bed, though in fact no one had; Goldilocks had only tested it out and found it lacking. Mama Bear, too, was taken in by the world of appearance and exclaimed, "Someone's been sleeping in MY bed!"
The little Baby Bear, fully awake, said, "Someone's been sleeping in my bed (the sleep of the one who lives in the dream) and here she is!" The wise little bear had no problem with there being someone in his bed; he was simply making an observation. What is, is. And in fact there she was, the Someone in that bed, in that moment...but only in that moment for in the next moment she took off like a shot, frightened out of her wits because she believed her thoughts about bears. ("Bears are dangerous;" meanwhile she was the intruder, the thief, the destroyer of chairs.)
Goldilocks told the story of her "narrow escape" far and wide, and that story has been told over and again ever since as if it really happened as she perceived it. In that way she created her reality as a victim, in danger, who emerged victorious as a hero. And the bears? We could say they carried on with their lives, but since no one observed them and came back to tell us, that would be just another fairy tale.
©2006 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved. (Is that true?)