The Tigers and the Strawberry– Story

Another open ended story. This one is a well known Zen story. For those reading an open ended story here for the first time, the introductory comments are attached:

An open-ended story is an invitation to see your own situation from a fresh perspective. Unlike conventional stories, there is no specific point or moral or lesson to take away. It can be enjoyed for itself, or converted figuratively to help interpret an actual situation in a new way. In this sense, it is not an intellectual exercise, rather just an opportunity to see if any ideas resonate.

It can be interpreted in an individual way. Further, as time and conditions change, an individual may see a different aspect from one reading to the next. And if this type of thing doesn’t interest you or nothing resonates, just pass on by.

The Tigers and the Strawberry

There was a man walking across an open field, when suddenly a tiger appeared and began to give chase.The man began to run, but the tiger was closing in.As he approached a cliff at the edge of the field, the man grabbed a vine and jumped over the cliff.Holding on as tight as he could, he looked up and saw the angry tiger prowling out of range ten feet above him.He looked down.In the gully below, there were two tigers also angry and prowling.He had to wait it out.He looked up again and saw that two mice, one white, the other black, had come out of the bushes and had begun gnawing on the vine, his lifeline.As they chewed the vine thinner and thinner, he knew that he could break at any time.Then, he saw a single strawberry growing just an arms length away.Holding the vine with one hand, he reached out, picked the strawberry, and put it in his mouth. It was delicious.

Additional Stories

This is a link to a Collection of Zen Stories     (


There is often a desire to complete the story, to find a way out of this predicament or that dilemma.It is easy to forget that within the limitations of the moment, there is freedom.In this story, it’s the experience of the fresh taste of the strawberry.It is different in each case.Not every day can be an easy day for anyone. The freedom of the moment is always available, even when circumstances are grim.


14 Responses to The Tigers and the Strawberry– Story

  1. Joe Kukura says:

    My all time favorite.

  2. Josefa says:

    I’m presently experiencing the sudden loss of a loved one. I could apply “The Tigers and the Strawberry-Story” to help my grief by trying to live, thus enjoy moment by moment.

  3. MaryAnne says:

    My favorite story….This speaks to me over and over and over….The strawberry is sooooo wonderful and someone pointed out recently that all the seeds are on the outside. Thanks Paul…


  4. Chris T says:

    This story is in “Handbook to Higher Consciousness” by Ken Keynes…a fantastic book on how to live in the here and now!! Enjoy the strawberries!!

  5. Kevin says:

    an epiphany to any with eyes and litteracy

  6. manju bangar says:

    This story tells us that even in the middle of a delicate situation one should be in the balanced mind, not to be worried but to see and eat God like that of a strawberries

  7. Paul says:

    Sorry but this didn’t speak to me at all – I could only see the possibility of feeding the strawberries to the mice.

  8. waltika says:

    Reblogged this on Waltika and commented:
    My first Zen story. The one that made me curious about Zen.

  9. qqq says:

    I am 51 now and I read this story for the first time when I was 16 at school. the strawberry still tastes just as good.

  10. […] Deuteronomy 30: “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.” It is always our decision to choose life even in the midst of death and adversity. The man in the story “The Tigers and the Strawberry” had a just such a choice. […]

  11. andydisnai says:

    Sorry YOU TOO have missed the point of the whole story! SEE: The Most Misunderstood Buddhist Story – The Tiger and the Strawberry:

  12. NoFixedClass says:

    I snapped my bike chain going up a ridiculously steep local hill yesterday. The blackberries by the roadside were just coming into season and I appreciated the plants in the hedgerow at a different speed. My friend pointed me towards this story!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: