The Melon Hunter
The Sufi-teaching story of the Melon Hunter
Once upon a time, there was a man who strayed from his own country into the world known as the Land of Fools. He soon saw a number of people flying in terror from a field where they had been trying to reap wheat. “There is a monster in that field”, they told him. He looked, and saw that it was a watermelon.
He offered to kill the “monster” for them. When he had cut the melon from its stalk, he took a slice and began to eat it. The people became even more terrified of him than they had been of the melon. They drove him away with pitchforks, crying, “He will kill us next unless we get rid of him”
It so happened that at another time another man also strayed into the Land of Fools, and the same thing started to happen to him. But, instead of offering to help them with the “monster”, he agreed with them that it must be dangerous, and by tiptoeing away from it with them he gained their confidence. He spent a long time with them in their houses until he could teach them, little by little, the basic facts which would enable them not only to lose their fear of melons, but even to cultivate them themselves.
– If you meet the Buddha on the Road, kill him. Kopp, Sheldon B. Bantam. 1972
I likely would have theatrically grappled the Watermelon… a terrible battle that would have teeter-tottered between nail-biting outcomes… in the moment just before it was able to deliver its coup de grâce, I would have (somewhat heroically) smashed it with a half-brick about its rotundness. Perhaps by lulling it into an (ill-considered) soliloquy about its master-plan. Smearing my face with its innards I would have been wounded that my efforts did not result in my adoration and subsequent elevation to that of (philosopher) King of the fools. A position I feel I am well suited for.
How did they not recognize my greatest I would fume, stalking back up the mountain. ‘Seriously Zarathustra, I would say to the man coming down the path, ‘Don’t even bother’.