Inspirational Thoughts 4/15/2013: Hiss don’t bite…

THE SNAKE AND THE SAINT – parables of Sri Ramakrishna:

A group of persons from a village went to a holy man, a Saint, who was meditating in a cave in the mountains. They were very scared and complained to the Saint about large venomous snake who was terrorizing everyone in the village. They asked the saint to help them.

The Saint went to the village, to where the snake lived. The Saint called out to the snake. Mesmerized by the aura and charismatic presence of the Saint, the snake suddenly lost all his ferocity and glided towards the Saint and coiled up meekly at the Saint’s feet in obeisance .

“O you beautiful creature, what is it that I hear about you being the scourge of the village? Leave your destructive ways. Be good. Don’t terrorize the poor villagers needlessly. Stop biting them. Leave them alone,” the Saint said to the snake.

The snake bowed and nodded assent. He resolved to leave his evil ways and be good and promised the Saint that henceforth he would not bite anyone. The venomous snake turned a new leaf, scrupulously kept his promise and began to live a life of innocence, without attempting to harm anyone.
One day, several months later, the Saint passed by the village, searched for the snake and found the snake coiled near the root of a tree, lying mangled and half dead. He had sores all over his body. The poor snake seemed to be on the verge of death.
“O My Dear Friend, what happened to you…?” the Saint asked the snake.
“This, O Guru, is the fruit of obedience, of being good. I obeyed you, I gave up my evil ways, I let the villagers alone, I stopped biting them, I stopped attacking them, and what happened to me? Now everyone pelts me with stones, beats me with sticks, even the children tease me and drag me mercilessly by the tail. But I have kept my promise that I made to you…”
The Saint smiled and lovingly said to the snake, “I told you not to bite them, but did I ever tell you not to hiss…?”
We all have an innate ability to unleash our emotions and act without control with grave consequences. This total lack self-control of our senses often is purposeless and egoistic stemming from anger, greed, lust, envy, hubris, and attachment.
The unbridled senses are like the poisonous snake playing havoc among people, total lack of self-control- Rajasic quality

We are taught and expected to be kind, generous, forgive and to forget, non-violent, non-aggressive, etc. In the process of trying to be a good person and presenting a good picture to ourselves or others we may be indirectly practicing passivity like the snake.

The curbed senses are like the inactive snake almost beaten to death- Tamasic quality

The underlying message seems to be one of learning to be assertive when there is a direct threat to our physical, spiritual, moral well-being. Passivity only renders us to be a victim of circumstance, and aggression lends us to be perpetrators of the situation.

The sublimated senses is a balance between too much action and no action- Sattvik quality. Sattvik quality preserves the moral, physical, and spiritual integrity of self.

The snake in this story could also have moved away from the situation if even after hissing, he was continued to be harassed and bullied. When a situation does not promote spiritual well-being our Dharma is to walk away gracefully from there. Turn the other cheek….is an advice to refrain from retaliating and adding fuel to the fire. However God has given us ample ability to preserve our own integrity, using all available God-given resources is our duty.

When we are in any confrontational situation, its best to ask:

“Am I hissing or biting?”

“Am I being bitten or being hissed at?”

If I am hissing……….do it with love………..and gracefully move away if situation does not improve. Sometimes too much hissing can become vicious when ego takes over. Leave well before that.

If I am being hissed at………..receive with love……….and rectify the situation.

If I am biting or being bitten…………stop the act as soon as possible……….use all the God-given resources to improve the situation. Leave if necessary.

Spiritual-Preservation is our Dharma. With active spiritual intuition it will be easy to discriminate between the aggressive snake that bites, and the sublimated snake that hisses.


2 comments on “Inspirational Thoughts 4/15/2013: Hiss don’t bite…

  1. Maybe the problem was the Saint asked the snake to not be itself. Maybe the Saint should have asked the snake to leave the vicinity of the village. Would that not have been the better solution? Interested to hear your thoughts.

  2. I think it is a story of following path of goodness, but not to give up on your personal integrity. If the saint had asked the snake to leave it would have terrorized some other village. It would not have transformed its ways. The story shows how one should follow the advice of a Teacher/ Guru but use your own God given resources to continue to maintain personal integrity.

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