The Monk and the Snake

There was once a snake who terrorised a tiny village. Women, children, adored family pets he would bite them all, without a moment’s contemplation or modicum of sensitivity.

One day, a Buddhist monk visited the village. He observed the snake’s behaviour and committed to teaching the snake the principle of non-violence or non-harming. As it turns out, the snake had a penchant for self-improvement and thoroughly absorbed the monk’s teachings. He loved the concept of non-violence and accepted it wholeheartedly.

Alas, once the snake refused to bite the villagers, they, in turn, exploited his newly discovered vulnerability. They threw dirt and rocks at him, poked at him with sticks, and, generally, made his life miserable. Some time later, the monk returned to find the snake bruised, beaten, and starving.

“What happened to you!” exclaimed the gentle monk. Clearly, it pained him to see his former student in such a predicament.

Sadly, the snake replied, “You taught me the principle of non-violence … You taught me not to bite people!”

“Ahhh, my friend, I did teach you not to bite people,” the monk conceded. Then, he lowered his voice to indicate the sharing of a very important secret, “But I never said that you couldn’t HISS.”

(A well known Buddhist parable)