Thursday, May 01, 2008
Once a mother and her child went to catch fish. Both of them were groping in the mud looking for fish when the child unknowingly grasped a snake and raised it up to show his mother. His mother knew the danger, but her mindfulness was equal to the situation so she said to the child, “That’s a fine fish, keep hold of it tightly and don’t let go. I will come to help you.” So the child held the neck of the snake tightly. As soon as his mother reached him, she hit the snake and killed it. Then she told her child: “That was not a fish, but a poisonous snake. If I had told you that before, you might have been afraid and let go of it. Then it would have turned and bitten you. So I had to use this method.”
This story is an allegory for people who practise Dhamma. In other words, if you merely read a lot of books on Dhamma, then you will try to jump from attã to anattã and end up not believing anything until you have no principles to hold on to. You must hold on to and use attã (self) while you are practising Dhamma through successively higher levels, in the same way that you take hold of a ladder and use it to go up step by step. As you pass each step, you leave it behind. You do not hold on to that rung and try to carry it with you. In that way, you climb up until you reach the room upstairs where you want to go. Then you leave the ladder behind without trying to hold on to it. You simply enter the room to rest and relax happily. This is the way with anicca, dukkha and anattã — ultimately you discard them. But you cannot discard them to begin with, because you
must depend on them as the means to go up step by step, discarding each successive step along the way until you are able to discard the lot, holding nothing.
Acharn Maha Boowa
Picture by: nealmueller@Flickr