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I wander farther afield and, overcome by a feeling of fatigue, throw myself upon the ground and listen to the hum of insects. The minutes pass and then I slowly become aware of a second sound. It is a kind of gentle swishing, yet so faint that it could be easily overlooked. Certainly if my corpse-like position did not bring my ears close to the ground, I could never hear the noise. I sit up suddenly and gaze around in circular fashion. Through the bushes comes a gliding snake. The glittering, baleful eyes stare coldly and petrify me for a few moments. Why has Nature cursed this country with sneaking, crawling things? And then I remember the Buddha's injunction to be compassionate, to live and let live. Was he himself not shielded from the hot mid-day sun by a cobra which formed its hood into a canopy over the sage's head? Has not Nature provided a home for this snake equally as for me? Why need we look at each other with such trepidation? It rises from the ground in magnificent malignity to the height of my own head, a venomous and vertical creature whose neck gradually spreads out into a narrow hood marked with coloured spots. Instantly I direct my thought toward that Overself which pervades the creature confronting me no less than this body of mine. I perceive that this Self is one and the same and that the two forms appear within it. I sense that it is binding me to the other form in universal sympathy. My separateness, my fearfulness, even my repugnance and hatred, melt away. In that sublime unity, there is no second thing to arouse enmity . . . The snake passes on its way, and I am left safely alone. How much higher is this than the snake-magic which I learned in Egypt, how much more worthwhile! For the dervish who taught me his arcana of conquering cobras by occult powers now lies in a sandy grave outside Luxor, his face distorted by the agony of snake-bite, his twenty-year immunity lost in a single moment.

-- Notebooks Category 12: Reflections > Chapter 6: The Profane and The Profound > # 244

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