The Cobra

I once attended a lecture about a man’s spiritual experiences in India in the 1960’s. He said he was determined to get rid of his negative emotions. he struggled against anger and lust he struggled against laziness and pride [and fear]. His meditation teacher kept telling him to stop struggling, but he took that as just another way of explaining how to overcome his obstacles.

Finally the teacher sent him off to meditate in a tiny hut in the foothills. He shut the door and settled down to practice. Around midnight he heard a noise in the corner of the room, and in the darkness he saw a […]king cobra. It was right in front of him, swaying. All night he stayed totally alert, keeping his eyes on the snake. He was so afraid that he couldn’t move. There was just the snake and himself and fear.

Just before dawn he began to cry. He cried not in despair but from tenderness. He felt the longing of all the animals and people in the world; he knew their alienation and their struggle. All his meditation had been nothing but further separation and struggle. He accepted that he was angry and jealous, that he resisted and struggled, and that he was afraid. He also accepted that he was also precious beyond measure[…] That much intimacy with fear caused his dramas to collapse, and the world around him finally got through.

-Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart.

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