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  • ( - a Sufi story)

    There once was a man who lived just on the edges of a deep and wild forest. In this same forest there lived a fox. The fox had only two legs - the hind ones (for the front two were missing). Some say the fox lost his front legs in the vicious jaws of a hunter’s trap. Others thought he might have bit them off trying to escape.

    One day the man who lived at the edge of the forest grew curious. How is it, he wondered, that the fox could survive without being able to hunt? For surely having only two legs must be of great disadvantage.

    And so the man decided to find out.

    He found the place in the woods where the fox lived and waited and watched. He had waited for some time when, suddenly, he caught the sound of a rustling from deep within the forest.

    What emerged from the rustling was a great tiger and, in its mouth, fresh game. The man hid quickly and breathlessly behind a tree as he watched the tiger approach the fox. The tiger sat calmly down not far from the fox, consumed some of the game and placed what was left before the helpless two-legged creature. Then, returning to the shadows of forest the tiger departed.

    From behind the same tree, the man witnessed the two animals repeat this exchange several times over the coming days. Each time the same great provider, the graceful tiger, after eating some of its fresh game, offered the rest to the two-legged fox.

    So that was how the fox survived! The man turned this fact over and over in his head and thought to himself, why do I struggle so much? Why do I not put myself, like the fox, in the hands of the Great Provider? Surely, if I have faith, I will be nourished, too!

    And so, that is what the man did. He no longer hunted or tended to his garden; instead, he held fast to his faith.

    Though he soon grew hungry and weary, his faith was strong. And he continued to refuse to hunt or garden. And he waited. Days passed and then weeks. The man became just skin and bones and so so weak. His heartbeat sank to too slow a rhythm and his lungs could barely breathe from exhaustion.

    It was just as he began slipping and tottering at the edge of the final darkness that he heard a rustling and then a great voice, which said to him:

    ‘O poor man! Do you not understand you were to take your lesson from the tiger, not the fox!"
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