This is the story of a snake.Â It lived in the outskirts of a little village. This snake was a great menace to the villagers. It bit and killed many of them.
One day a sage (mahatma) passed its way. The snake charged out of its hideout to attack him. The sage stood unperturbed. The assailant instantly recognized the divine personality. It prostrated before him and begged his pardon. The sage being a godly man blessed the creature and counselled, â€˜Why do you harass innocent villagers thus? It will not do you good. Learn to love your fellow beings.â€™
The snake bowed down in submission and in a repentant tone replied, â€˜I will not do so again. I will follow your advice.â€™Â The sage condoned the blessed creature and went his way.
Many days passed. The good man happened to cross the same path again. And lo! he found the snake broken and lacerated with wounds. He enquired lovingly as to the cause of its sad state.
The ignorant one, still full of devotion, replied, â€˜My lord, I only followed your words of wisdom and expressed my love to one and all. The villagers pelted me with stones and brought me to this condition.â€™
â€˜How silly have you been, my child,â€™ rejoined the wise man. â€˜I only asked you to love others, but I did not want you to express your love for them. You should have hissed and driven them away.â€™
Such it is with my life also. I cannot afford to manifest, that is demonstrate or express my feelings all the time. My discrimination must be ever alert to guide my emotions to proper channels. This is intelligent living.â€™
This is a wonderful story by Bal Thanedar, from which he draws the conclusion that, in following religious precepts, we need to still exercise our intelligent understanding of human foibles and weaknesses and the instinctive reactions of people who are not sensitive to changes in learned and expected patterns of behavior.Â The villagers reacted towards the snake according to their past bad experiences, and were totally unprepared to understand, let alone accept, his conversion by the wise sage, and his unexpectedly loving change of heart and behavior.
As we evolve into higher consciousness, we still must be prudent and realize that the ways of the world do not change, and people react according to past experience and are slow to evaluate, let alone understand, changes in consciousness, and the evolution of people and beings in their vicinity. Therefore, the powers of the intellect to process external circumstances are essential to protect growth in consciousness until the villagers could be open-minded and non-reactive enough to accept non-standard behavior.
Under the influence of the mahatma, the snake had learned to forego his cruel behavior and to truly try to love his fellow men. However, his fellow men had not changed and had no basis for realizing his evolution in consciousness.Â So it is casting a pearl before swine to expect people to respond differently than their habitual behavior without themselves undergoing any kind of conversion experience too.
So the evolved individual or creature would be wise to discriminate when the time and conditions are ripe for his fellows to realize that circumstances and people change and evolve, and that nothing in the river of time stays the same. Until people lose their conditioning, it is foolish to expect anything from them except their learned and habitual behavior. Only when we perceive an opening in an individual can we help them to rise to a new level. It is important to understand the limitations of others as we try intelligently and respectfully to change attitudes and behavior in society.
This is why Christ, dying an agonizing death on the cross, reviled and tortured by his fellow men, said, â€˜Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.â€™ He knew and accepted and did not turn away when Judas Iscariot, one of his own twelve chosen disciples, betrayed him to the Roman authorities out of jealousy and for thirty pieces of silver.
Until ordinary people grow in Christ consciousness, it is impossible for them to behave in any other way but their habitual cruelty and conditioned reflexes. The prudent man or creature recognizes this and wisely behaves accordingly. Only those who truly embody divine nature will sacrifice themselves, atoning for the imperfection of others, and even then it will take thousands of years for the evolution of human consciousness.