The Two Snakes
Story on Overcoming Self-Deception.
There’s a very important little story that has gone viral around the world.
The Two Wolves
A boy goes to his grand-father, an old wise Cherokee. “A fight is going on inside me,” he says to his grandfather.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is all my bad feelings of anger, depression, self loathing and wanting to have everything not mine.” He continues, “The other is my longing to be good, giving and kind. It wants to bring joy and hope in this world.”
The grandfather laughs. “Yes, grandson, everyone has that fight within.”
The grandson thinks about it for a minute and then asks his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replies, “The one you feed.”
This story is very helpful for those suffering their own negativity, for people struggling with trauma’s, feel inner guilt and torment. We can face it, when we can admit there’s these two wolves within. But not everyone is at this point. The fight is hardly ever so easy. We lie to ourselves a lot. We betray values, sell out for pleasures and rather avoid conflict, even among the wolves within. For many people, these wolves may be snakes. And to escape sneaky Ego snakes a different story might be needed….
The Two Snakes
A man approaches the shaman in his village with a question. “However I try, I never get what I want and all my relationships end in disaster. What can I do?” To this the old shaman replies, “I see you have two snakes within. Both of them are liars. The first makes you self justify ego-centric choices at the cost of your own body and the peace of those around you. And the other snake is a smooth avoider of conflict with this one, trying to free itself without confrontation.”
“What!?” shouts the man, “I’m not a liar and if you say more of that stuff I’ll smack your face!”
“That’s the ego-centric snake; it comes out as poison when it feels threatened or exposed.” The man is taken aback by the revelation of the shaman.
“What, eh, do you mean with that?” replies the man. “That question is the other snake.” says the shaman, “It opens a way out by being curious for how things really work.”
Both snakes in balance are actually healing powers. The one is that of self preservation and safety. The other that of curiosity and exploration. Yet what once may have been a helpful snake has become corrupted self preservation. This snake is so focused on getting what it wants it lies to the self, ever graving more. The other avoids conflict and seeks to heal without really facing the shadows within. Or without changing things for real, like changing behavior because our planet needs it. There’s a huge market for those people: “Buy ‘The Easy Way Out’, now and get results in days.” And then we haven’t even started on all the lies and deceptions in politics and commerce, let alone wars and conflicts, driven by self justifications, that rationalize wrong doings and consciously fight exposure.
“Self justification is the worst sin”, has been said among the Sufi’s. Thus both snakes are lying. The first allows yourself to indulge yourself, neglect wants of others, and or harm them on purpose, because, well, they’re an obstacle. The second avoids facing this snake within and seeks to understand and solve this as a puzzle seeking an easy way out, preferably avoiding the shadows in the closet. But only through really facing this inner reality the moment comes, that the curious snake may opens doors that can’t be closed. Because once once we are aware and acknowledge our self deceptive snakes, the real healing begins. For when the snakes find a healthy balance they can keep you and the world healthy. The one called safety (which understands a safe planet is the best investment for all) will offer protection and the one called exploration (which understands that wonder is about more than ambition at the cost of others) will offer growth and progress.
Comment of the Sage: “The only way out of this is to feed both your snakes, starting with the one that asks the questions. Feed it wonder and reality.”
Comment of the Fool: “Oh shit, when I do that, my two snakes turn into these two wolves.”