How Do We Get Rid of the Snake?
The serpent terrorizes you. How Can You Banish it From Your Life?
Sages and wise men have kept audiences enthralled for more than three thousand years with the story of the snake and how it came to be.
It is a tale with many levels.
Here is my modern re-telling of this ancient fable.
It was a beautiful piece of land and naturally enclosed by a steep hill, a thick grove of trees and a meandering river.
A nearby school regularly used it for camping trips and the children loved playing hide-and-seek. The masters would always caution them against going to a particular corner where thick shrubs abutted a curve of the hill to form a dark cave.
There were snakes there, warned the supervisors and the kids stayed away. One intrepid girl cautiously approached the forbidden juncture and spied sudden movement. She screamed and ran back and told everyone about a giant snake that has almost bitten her.
The tale spread and the snake grew larger. Each year the students tried to get rid of the snake. They hauled buckets of water up the incline and, from a safe distance, upended them so the water rushed down and, they hoped, drowned the snake.
They tried to set the brush on fire, but it was too green. They, without the knowledge of the masters, siphoned gas from the tank of one of the jeeps and improvised Molotov cocktails using coke bottles. They threw the flaming missiles into the thicket. There was a fierce blaze for some minutes and then the petrol ran out.
But the snake still survived.
They could see it moving when the wind blew. And they stayed away and speculated on when it had come there and how old it was and how to kill it and they remained terrified.
One year a new master accompanied the children, and he was an outdoorsman. He was also an amateur herpetologist, and he knew that snakes did not behave the way that this one supposedly did.
He donned thick, thigh high, wading boots and grabbed a stout cudgel and a powerful miner’s lamp and set out to investigate.
Shortly thereafter he called the campers to join him. No, they did not have to wear shoes. It was ok to come in sandals or even barefoot.
In the bright beam of the lamp, they saw an eight-foot length of hemp cord. It was partially burnt, and the charred portion was light and moved sinuously when the wind blew. Even from a few feet away, it seemed remarkably serpentine.
The snake so many had feared for so long was a rope!
And that, the sages say, is the human predicament in a nutshell.
We think we live in a ‘real’ world, and it is full of joy and pain and a little too much of the latter.
We are scared of this snake that has grabbed us and is stifling us and filling us with sorrow. We try to ‘kill’ it by meditating and watching our mental chatter and re-arranging our mental models.
The solution is simple, but it is not easy.
We do not have to ‘kill’ the snake. We just have to recognize that it is merely a rope. The snake was never born, and it never existed.
And, with this knowledge, comes great joy and complete freedom.
This is deep, really deep.
Think about it.