Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Parables and Religious Teachings


Religious texts and teachings are a great source of parables. They are useful because most have universal appeal which make them powerful stories, parallel to mini-stories I have come across that I end up mentioning in both personal and professional settings. In the Western world, many of those parables come from the Bible, but as we start to explore Eastern cultures, I am starting to hear more parables new to the Western tradition.

The one I refer to the most often is Buddha’s teaching about the second arrow. The first arrow represents any misfortune that happens to us, say, a death of a friend or a tripping and hurting your leg.  But when we start crafting narratives around that experience, we are creating a second arrow for ourselves: “I meant to see my friend last month and didn’t, and now s/he is dead. I should have canceled my appointment and took the time.” or “This is so embarrassing to trip in front of so many people. What would they think of me?”

We couldn’t help the first arrow, but any subsequent arrows are our own responsibility, and they are unnecessary (and certainly do not help matters).

Just knowing the story and the term, second arrow, helps me snap out of creating further narratives that trap me in what usually is a selfish world. My husband and I can now say to each other “oh, but that’s a second arrow” and we take a moment to be with the first arrow to experience it as it is.

Photo Credit: Robert Brewer


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This entry was posted on March 16, 2015 by in Buddhism, Stories and tagged , , .
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