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A Long, Fat, Venomous Snake

by Monty Joynes

He has been for an hour’s walk and is coming back when he sees the snake. It is a long, fat snake with a diamond pattern in its scales and a white rattle at the end of its tail. It crosses the hot dusty road in front of him, seeking the cooler shaded sanctuary of the rocky hillside. The man follows it and stands quite close. For some minutes the man sings to the snake, and the snake seems to listen patiently, tasting the sense of the man on its flickering tongue. The man is telling the snake how beautiful it is and how much he appreciates sharing the snake’s world. After some minutes, the encounter ends, and they part at the side of the road, man and snake en route to their individual destinations.

There are prejudices toward snakes in the cultural memory that would define unguarded encounters on a country road. The conditioned man might allow fear to intrude on the moment and even escalate insecurity to violence against the stereotyped body of the animal. But in the absence of thought, relationship is made possible. Without the conviction of threat, proximity is comfortable, even welcomed. Just as the word is not the thing itself, thought is not the truth about reality. A man communes with a snake in the thoughtless awareness of its nature and discovers a beauty that no word or thought can convey. 

Reality occurs in the spaces between words and thoughts. In the spaces between is relationship—between a man and a snake, between lovers, between parents and children, between strangers. This is the place from which to live, from which to generate all behavior. Relationship is the test of our philosophies. Individuals may carefully construct self-images, but the proof of character is in conduct toward others. If love and respect is returned, it was initiated. If an angry and fearful environment presents itself, anger and fear were the initiated projections. These behavioral relationships constitute laws. What is given is received. If you desire love, give love. If you desire forgiveness, first forgive. If you want riches, give away all that you now possess. To experience kindness, be kind. To be considered, be considerate. What a revelation it is to learn this lesson. One has to surrender his mind to discover his heart. Only then can he function in the world and find joy in all relationships.
There are times in life when consciousness is fragmented. The content of the mind is fragmented, and one loses human dignity and becomes insensitive, callous, and even destructive. In the tendency of the mind to assert superiority by the exercise of control, man or woman forsakes love. The quality of light on flowers and human faces is lost to him. For her, there is no rejoicing in the applause of leaves on trees in the wind. 

Humankind must turn inward and watch the functions of thought as they emerge. Gradually, it is discovered that a watched thought cannot endure. It fades under observation. The process leads to fewer and fewer thoughts that are observed, rather than challenged, and allowed to dissipate. After some months of internal focus, one begins to realize that there is something beyond thoughts, a reality prior to thought. In the stillness of the mind, the essence of being emerges—wordless, thoughtless, but powerfully evident. When realized, the center of this thoughtless awareness radiates throughout the body and gives a sensual feeling of warmth, contentment, even bliss. Submission rather than desire is the only way to maintain it. 

When fragmentation allows for pain and sorrow, and the burden of it is felt, return to the penetrating, clarifying question—who am I?  Follow the question where it will lead to its source deep in the center of being. Rest there and find stability. From this place, look out on a world without objectification. There is a healing silence and a sense of bathing in it until there is nothingness—a profound nothingness in which everything is contained. And since everything is available, nothing is desired. This is the experience of peace. 

A human being may walk in beauty or walk without the awareness of it. Because of the fragmented mind, the individual does not realize that choice is possible. The possibility of complete liberation from fear is an idea that comes under immediate rational doubt. The mind is thus in a constant state of conflict, fragment grinding against fragment. The instigation of pleasures provides only momentary release.

Oftentimes decisions generated from the mind yield failure and disappointment. But action from the quiet mind is always appropriate to situation and circumstance. And thus when asked what one would do in any given drama of existence, say no more than that you do not know. You do not know because you will no longer be dependent on memory or the conditioned reflex of behavior. You do not know because you cannot predict what awareness then might do. 

A long, fat venomous snake will soon cross the road close to you. Have you already decided to run away or to seek some weapon to destroy it? Have you predetermined your behavior in hundreds of imagined situations? Will you then be aware, be alive to events when they occur, or will you repeat some learned pattern of your society upbringing and be dead to all other possibilities and potentials?

Monty Joynes is recognized as a pioneer author in the Visionary Fiction genre. His five novels in the Booker Series, beginning with Naked into the Night (1997), focus on Anglo entry into the contemporary world of American Indian metaphysics and social issues. His published credits of 22 books includes Confessions of a Channeler: A Reluctant Man’s Journey into Mysticism (Eltanin Publishing, 2014). Visit his website at  www.montyjoynes.com and his blog at www.writingasaprofession.wordpress.com.

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