The Scorpion and the Holy Master is a beautiful wisdom story that continues to challenge my progress in spiritual life. Here is the story:
A master seeing a scorpion drowning in a lake picked it to leave it in a place of safety. As soon as he lifted the scorpion it stung him. Instinctively he flung his hand and the scorpion found itself drowning in the lake again. After few minutes the master once again reached out to save the scorpion but it stung him again. This went on for a few times and a passerby observing what was happening said to him, “Master, why do you risk your life to save the scorpion knowing that it will keep stinging you. Leave the scorpion to die.” The holy master, with his gaze still fixed on the scorpion, said to him, “It is the nature of the scorpion to sting but it is my nature to save it and I will not let its’ nature to change my dharma nature.”
To remain faithful to one’s true nature in all situations and circumstances of life is one of the signs of true spirituality. Isn’t this true in the life of Jesus who remained true to his identity; the Son of God. He was nothing other than being and living this truth. The Temptations in the desert, populace pressure to be a political Messiah, the demand to come down from the cross as a sign… nothing deterred him from living his true nature. He chose love and forgiveness over hostility and violence. Betrayals, rejections, desertions, apparent failure of his mission… nothing could make him to be other than living his true nature and believing in the trans-formative power of love. To me this is the hallmark of spirituality and holiness. Isn’t this what we are called to as his disciples? In the Christian tradition:
The fear of being beheaded did not prevent John the Baptist from remaining true to himself.
Saul, having put on the mind of Christ, died to his old ‘self’ and found his true ‘self’ in Christ.
Therese of Little Flower lived by her commitment to love God and love others even when others made her life difficult in the convent.
Mother Theresa did not permit negative criticisms to move her away from her commitment to Jesus and her mission.
Thomas Merton did not permit the judgments of fellow monks and religious authorities to derail his openness to seeds of Contemplation found in other religious traditions.
Threat of being assassinated did not stop Oscar Romero from raising his voice for the poor.
Sir Thomas Moore chose to remain faithful to his conscience until his death.
Violence and threats to his life did not force Martin Luther King to give up who he was and what he fought for.
Don’t we come across people who exhibit the same spirit even in other religious traditions?
Buddha did not allow severe verbal abuses levelled against him to stop being compassionate.
Thich Naht Hanh, in the face of anger and hostility thrown at him, chose to walk his chosen path of non-violence.
Ramana Maharishi, after his self-realization, continued to abide as the Self.
M.K. Gandhi till his last breath lived his spirituality satyagraha and ahimsa.
One of the biggest challenges in spiritual life is not to let the externals define our nature. Whatever spiritual traditions we belong to, the goal is the same; to live in God. As a Christian, having been baptized in Christ, putting on the mind of Christ, living in Christ, abiding in Christ implies that ‘It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20).” If Christ’s nature is in me then absolutely there is no place for my ‘self-constructed ego.’ To let ourselves be defined by the presence of God and to be that presence in our words and acts is the goal of prayer. Such a prayer life calls for a strong desire to walk a spiritual path through a life of spiritual discipline; in this process the false ego that normally defines us will give way to a ‘self’ whose nature is Christ. This self remains the same even when people hurt us, betray us, insult, plot against us, and act out of malice and self-centeredness maligning our name and image. We respond from a ‘Christ – center’ even when the social, political, and religious environment is against us. When the ‘self’ is rooted in God than no one and no situation has the power to force us to be other than what we are meant to be: a continuous presence of God in all circumstances of life.
Make the words of Mother Theresa your own:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
It is the nature of the scorpion to sting but it is my nature to respond with Christ’s nature. This is spirituality.
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