In The World But Not of the World
Many people wonder how to conduct their daily business of living while practicing sadhana. For example, one may wonder, how a man dedicated to a spiritual life of non-violence, peace and goodwill, can scold or take to task his employees if he err. Doesn’t, getting angry, shouting at someone and so on, retard spiritual progress?
Listen to this story. Once, there lived a huge cobra, so dangerous that no one dared to walk across the path besides which was his hole. One day, a young brahmachari on pilgrimage had to cross that village. All the people warned him not to go along the dreaded path because the cobra was sure to kill him The Brahmin told them not to worry because he knew enough charms to keep the snake at bay. As he approached the snake’s hole, he saw the cobra with its hood raised, ready to strike. He tamed him with his mantras and the snake became his disciple. He taught the snake the elements of spiritual practice. He also told the snake that, if he wanted to lead a spiritual life, he had to give up biting people. The snake agreed.
On his way back, after a year, the brahmachari stopped at the same village. He saw that the street where the snake lived was no longer deserted. People walked up and down fearlessly. He asked some street urchins about the snake. “Ah,” they said, “he is still there in the hole. But, who cares for him any more; he has stopped biting. Even when we pelt him with stones he does not bite. So we finally broke his backbone. He is now an invalid and comes out with great difficulty only in the night for his food.”
The brahmachari went to the hole and called out to his disciple softly. “Gurudev,” said the snake in a feeble voice, for he was almost starved to death, “I am here. I followed your advice, and stopped biting and you can see for yourself what has happened to me. Anyway, I am continuing to meditate.” “Oh, you poor unfortunate fellow!” said the brahmachari. Why did you not use your common sense? I told you not to bite, but did I tell you not to hiss? All you had to do was to hiss and nobody would have dared approach you.”