I’m a firm believer that if you want to convey a widely-understood message, then it must be completely digestible by everyone. How do we achieve this, you may ask, with a world as diverse as ours? Well, I would answer, let us tap history to solve this mystery:
Fables tell a tale in a way where the message becomes universal, leaping across cultures, landscapes, educational backgrounds, age groups, and even eras. The short-hand cousin of the fable is the parable, another wielding of the words that I’m simply in love with. Being someone who can take a clue from those messengers before me who were far more adept in general, I realized the best way to communicate some of the most complex spiritual modalities, such as the approach pattern of Darkness, is through a story. As such –I wrote this fable.
I’m a big fan of the practical application of spiritual principles in everyday life. Not that sitting atop a mountain alongside a guru who bestows all his knowledge upon us wouldn’t be fabulous, but considering that most of us are balancing life between the Blackberry, iPad, laptop, text field, and work and family obligations – the whole “mountain top guru” thing is a bit… unrealistic. Instead, I opted to bring the message to the masses, not the mountain to Mohammed.
I am a true appreciator of the fable, as many of you likely have noticed in my own personal delivery style here on the blog. This fable I wrote was originally placed on my once-MySpace page, several years ago. However, I felt that its home was here, in the ranks of other spiritually inclined pieces, seeing that there really is no telling the difference between MySpace and TMZ anymore. And considering that MySpace barely has a pulse, that’s not saying much for TMZ, for which, not much could be said in the first place.
I give you my fable:
The Snake in the Berry Bush
© 2007 / 2011
Once upon a time, there was a snake that lived in a berry bush. The entire animal kingdom knew that the snake was there, and that the snake’s apatite was enormous. Every animal knew better than to get too close to the snake’s bush, because the snake would cast a spell over the animal using her hypnotic eyes, and in a flash the animals would end up in the snake’s belly.
All of the animals safely gathered food in their own clearings, as not to get near the snake’s lair. One day, mother monkey said to her son, “Go to the bushes in our clearing and gather berries for the family’s dinner tonight. Your sister and brother are very hungry. But you must be home before sundown. The forest is not safe.”
“I will,” said the young monkey, not paying attention and fussing to find a basket.
“How do I know that you will bring back food, and bring it back before the sun goes down?” said his mother. “How do I know that you will not go play with the other young monkeys, and ignore your responsibilities?”
The young monkey put his basket down and looked his mother straight in the eye, “I give you my word, mother, that I will fill the basket, and that I will be home before sundown.”
“Then you may go, my son,” she said, and sent her child out into the clearing.
The young monkey went to gather berries as he was told, and he noticed that all the berry bushes in his clearing had been picked clean. The young monkey was distressed.
“What will I do?” said the young monkey. “My mother trusted me to bring back food for my family, and the bushes are empty.”
A sweet voice cut across the clearing, “You will find fruit on my bush.”
The young monkey looked around, but saw no one. He ventured carefully to the edge of the clearing where he heard the voice, and called out. “You there, will you tell me where to find fruit for my family? It is late in the day, and the bushes in my clearing have been picked clean.”
“Here,” said the sweet voice, “come here, to my bush. It is overflowing with berries”
The young monkey squinted into the forest, and saw a small bush bursting with enormous plump, ripe berries. He looked around for his mother, “But I cannot leave the clearing, or surely the snake will get me.”
“It saddens my heart” said the sweet voice, “that the other animals say such terrible things about me.”
The young monkey’s blood ran cold as he realized that he was indeed, talking to the snake herself, though he could not see her through the trees. “But it is known by all that you eat the animals in the forest, once they get too close to you.”
“I have lived a quiet life under my bush, yet I am left painfully alone because of stories such as yours. All the animals are frightened of me. I am lonely, as no one will stop and talk with me.”
The young monkey was confused. “But it is known that one glance into your eyes, and an animal will instantly freeze in its tracks, hypnotized, and then it will be your dinner!”
“That is not true,” the sweet voice from the plump berry thicket answered. “I am very beautiful. I have colorful green scales and a smooth pink tongue, and a few animals in the forest are jealous of my beauty. So they spread untruths about me to make me sound ugly, and here I sit, alone. It is such a shame, as the berries on my bush are so sweet and delicious, and would feed so many mouths. ”
The young monkey was now even more confused. The snake’s voice was very sweet, and her bush was indeed bending over its branches with thick fruit. His mother, sister and brother would surely be so happy if he came back with his basket piled high with such sweet, ripe berries.
The young monkey stepped out of the safety of his own clearing. “How do I know that you will not eat me?”
“If I meant to eat you, would I not take you by surprise? Would I not simply wait for you to approach my bush to pluck my berries, then pounce upon you? Besides, I too eat berries.”
“You too eat berries?” the young monkey said, edging closer to the snake’s bush.
“Yes, I do. This is why I live beneath this full blooming bush. This is how I know that the berries on my bush are so very sweet and delicious. Yet there are far too many for me to eat all of them myself, and some are beginning to rot. It is sad that so many go to waste.”
“I don’t know,” said the young monkey. “My mother may be angry if she knows that I stepped out of the safety of our clearing to gather food.”
“I would not want your mother to be angry with you,” the snake said sweetly. “It is best that you go back to your clearing and find food there. Thank you so much for talking with me. It has been a very long time since I have had a conversation. Good bye.”
The young monkey backed into the safety of his clearing and began going from bush to bush, searching for food. But every berry bush was empty, and the sun was sinking behind the mountain. His mother, sister and brother would surely be very hungry if he came back with no food at all.
The young monkey returned to the spot where he heard the snake’s voice. “Snake! I cannot find any berries in my clearing, none at all. The bushes have been picked clean so late in the day, and my family will be hungry! May I please have some of your berries?”
The young monkey heard a rustling in the plump berry bush, “Of course,” she said sweetly, “I surely cannot eat them all. But you best hurry, so that your mother will not know you are gone from your clearing. We would not want her to be angry.”
The young monkey was thrilled to provide such a feast for his family! He hopped over to the bush, and plucked handful after handful of bursting berries into his basket. As his basket was filling, he felt very sorry for the snake, alone in her bountiful bush. He thought about how terrible it was that the animals in the forest had misjudged the snake, simply because a few were jealous. He would fill up his berry basket, and go tell his mother how gracious the snake had been. He would tell all the animals in the forest that the snake was their friend.
As his basket filled, he saw a beautiful green set of scales move within the bush. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, glistening with little rainbows as the snake moved. A lovely pink tongue flicked out of the bush and tickled the young monkey’s hand. The young monkey jumped back, startled.
“Do not be afraid of me,” the snake said gently. “I wish to see you to say hello, but Creator made my eyesight to be very poor. I must use my tongue so as to smell you instead, and you smell as if you have a beautiful coat of thick monkey fur! You are a monkey! How beautiful and handsome you must be! I am very lucky to have a friend as beautiful as you are. Your mother must be so proud of you.”
“Thank you,” said the monkey, his chest puffed out with pride as he continued to pile heap after heap of ripe berries in to his basket. “She is very proud of me. You yourself have very beautiful scales. I now know why some animals may be jealous. You have the colored bow that sets in the clouds within your very flesh!”
The snake’s beautiful rainbow skin slipped over the top of monkey’s feet, her velvety soft underbelly tickling the tops of his toes as she slithered beneath the bush. “Why thank you, monkey. It warms my heart to hear you say this. But what more of you? My belly tells me that your feet are so very big. You must be a big handsome young man, so stout and strong. Your mother must be very, very proud of you.”
“Yes,” the young monkey said, puffing his chest out even more over his overflowing basket of berries, “and she is going to be even more proud of me when she sees the banquet I am bringing home.”
“I am glad that we are friends,” said the snake.
“Me too,” said the young monkey. “I shall tell everyone the truth about you, of the lies spread about you, and all the animals shall come and say hello, and you will never be lonely again.”
“Does that mean that you will come back and visit me?” asked the snake, shyly.
“Of course I will!” the young monkey answered his beautiful new found friend. His basket was finally full, with ripened berries falling over the edges and onto the ground. “It is time for me to leave, but I will visit you tomorrow.”
“How do I know that you are not just saying this?” the snake said, crestfallen. “How do I know that you will not disappear from my berry bush, and I will never see you again, like so many other animals who have made the promise to be my friend before you, but who have left me all alone?”
The sadness in her voice broke the young monkey’s heart for the beautiful misunderstood snake. The young monkey put his overflowing basket down, and moved the bushes away so that he could look the snake directly in her eyes. “I give you my word, snake, that I will come back tomorrow and we will talk and laugh, just like today.”
The young monkey took a step back to reach for his basket, but he could not move any further. He was frozen into place, hypnotized, staring straight into to the swimming yellow eyes of the snake. It was then that he noticed that all around the snake’s huge mouth were berry stains.
“Snake,” he said, “what is happening? I cannot move, and I told my mother I would bring food home for my family before the sun went down!”
The beautiful snake coiled around the paralyzed monkey and said nothing, but opened her huge gaping jaws so wide that the monkey could see down her throat to the end of her tail. In her belly, he could see bushels and bushels of berries, all the berries from all the bushes in his clearing.
The young monkey, still hypnotized by the snake’s glance, was frightened. “Snake, what is happening? You told me that I would not be hypnotized by looking into your eyes!”
“No, I did not” the snake said sweetly. “You told me that once an animal looked in my eyes, it instantly freezes in its tracks, hypnotized, and then becomes my dinner. As I told you, that is not true. All animals typically take at least one step, as you had, before my spell takes them.”
“But snake,” cried the young monkey, “You told me that you don’t eat monkeys!”
“No,” said the snake sweetly, “I said that I eat berries. I do eat berries. I also eat monkeys. The bigger and stronger the monkey, the more full I will be. You are very big and strong. You will make for a nice meal, and I will not be hungry for a long time.”
“But snake,” cried the helpless monkey, “you yourself told me that you did not mean to eat me!”
“No,” said the snake sweetly, “I told you that if I meant to eat you, would I not take you by surprise? Would I not simply wait for you to approach my bush to pluck my berries, then pounce upon you? And I have done just those things. I waited until you came to my bush to pluck my berries, and I took you by surprise and pounced on you. I have done everything as I said I would do.”
“But snake,” cried the confused monkey, “I thought that you were lonely and did not want to be left alone!”
“Ah”, the snake said gently, licking her chops, “that is correct. But once I eat you, you will be inside of me, and I will not be alone.”
“But snake,” cried the crestfallen monkey, “I thought you were my friend!”
“I am your friend,” said the snake as she lowered her jaws around the monkey’s ears, “but my apatite is my master.”
Then in a flash, the snake swallowed the monkey whole, and for desert, ate all the plump berries in the basket that the young monkey had worked so hard to pick.
“Snake!” the despairing young monkey cried one last time from inside her belly. “You tricked me!”
“No”, the snake said sweetly, “it was your hunger that tricked you. I am only a snake.”
The moral of the story is: No matter how sweet the bush, don’t listen to a snake.