Two Stories From Osho:
Osho used to tell these stories about attachment:
The first one:
Three friends got together one evening and decided to spend the evening at the river bank close by. They bought some food and some wine and went to the river bank. They ate and drank and talked and had great fun. Then they saw a boat tied nearby. They got into the boat. It was close to midnight. They decided to go far out into the river and started rowing. They rowed all night, taking turns. Finally, at dawn, when everyone was tired, they decided to stop. They wondered how long it would take to get back to the river bank where they had started from. One of them said, “I’ll jump out to see how deep the water is here.” He jumped out and, to his surprise, landed on his feet. He looked around and realized what had happened. He said to his friends, “Oh… I think we forgot to untie the boat last night!”
The second story:
A camel caravan travelled for days in the desert and finally reached a small town where they decided to stop for the night, before starting their journey again the next morning.
So, they set up the tents and tied up all the camels for the night. Now the way they used to tie the camels in the desert was that they would hammer a rod into the sand deep enough so that the camel would not be able to pull it out. Then they would tie the rope which was tied to the camel’s neck to this rod.
When they were so tying up the camels, they realized that they were short of one rod, which had probably fallen away in the desert somewhere without anybody noticing it. Now they were in a fix. How to tie up the last camel? If they did not tie it up, it might wander away into the desert and get lost and never come back.
So, they went into the town to see what help they might get. The only place open at that time of the night was the local inn. They went inside and found the owner, an old man who had learnt a lot in his life, dealing with hundreds of people passing through the small town every day. When they told him what the problem was, he smiled and said, “You don’t need a rod to tie up the camel”. Surprized at what the old man said, they asked, “What do you mean? Of course we need a rod. How else are we going to make sure the camel doesn’t wander away and get lost?”
The old man said, “Just pretend that you have a rod, pretend in front of the camel that you are fixing it into the sand and then tie the rope to that imaginary rod. The camel will not go anywhere.”
The men thought that the old innkeeper was either senile or pulling their leg. The old man saw their faces and knew what they were thinking. He said, “You don’t have any other choice, so just go and do as I am saying.”
So they went back and decided to try what he was saying. They pretended to fix a rod into the sand and acted as if they were tying up the camel to this imaginary rod. Then they gave the camel some food. To their huge surprize, the camel sat down next to the imaginary rod and started eating, as it always did when actually tied to a rod.
The men laughed and went to sleep, astonished at the old man’s wisdom. The next morning, when they woke up, they found the camel sitting quietly at the same place.
They started packing up again to resume their journey. All the camels were untied and the luggage loaded onto their backs for the journey. But when it came to this camel, it would not stand up. They tried their best to pull it back up on its feet, but the camel just would not move. It kept sitting at the same place. Now the men were again in a fix. What to do? How to make the camel get back on its feet?
They went back to the inn-keeper and told him what had happened. He started laughing and said, “How can the camel move unless you un-tie him first?”
They said, “Have you gone mad? How can we un-tie a camel from an imaginary rod?”
The inn-keeper said, “The same way you you tied it to that rod.”
The men looked at each other and at the inn-keeper fully convinced that he was totally mad. But once again they had no option but to do as he was saying. They went back to the camel and pretended to un-tie the rope and take the imaginary rod out of the sand. And when they did this, the camel immediately stood up on its feet. It was the signal for the camel that the caravan was about to move. Now the men realized how truly wise the inn-keeper was.
These stories are probably two of the best parables about attachment that I have come across.
The friends rowing a boat which is tied to the shore, that is how our mind is. It is tied up to ideas, concepts, beliefs, religion, morality, ethics, relationships, other attachments, tangible and intangible, all of which keep us from moving forward, from attaining a real understanding of life, from connecting to the rest of the universe. We get stuck in a rut, even while we think we are growing and becoming mature and wise. And while the three friends recovered from the previous night’s intoxication to realize what had happened, we, in real life, never recover. We remain intoxicated all our lives and that’s how we die. I have seen people in their eighties and nineties still worried about the same things as people in their twenties and thirties are. Most of us never learn and never wake up.
The camel who thinks it is tied to the rod (which does not exist) represents us when we impose conditions and restrictions upon ourselves and think we cannot change. These conditions and restrictions are imaginary, just like the rod and the rope to which the camel was tied. If we could only try to see more clearly, if we could only clear the dust off the mirror of life and the mirror of our minds, it would show us how truly magnificent life is, how truly universal and eternal beings we are and how unconditionally we can love and live. It would show us how truly free-flowing and problem-less our existence can be.
Great stories, if we can understand. Ordinary and meaningless, otherwise.