When Sri Ramana Maharshi was sitting on the hill of Arunachala in the South of India one day, a cobra passed by, and because the Maharshi was sitting right in its path, it slithering up onto his legs and over before passing on its way. The Maharshi sat quietly and without showing the least concern or reaction observed its passage. People who were present at that time were shocked and afraid, but the Maharshi showed no fear or even surprise. When they asked him how it felt he replied with the utmost simplicity, “cool and soft”.
It is generally known that cobras are among the most dangerous of snakes in the world and the people of India are only too acutely aware this. If such a thing would have happened to one of us, well, you can imagine our reactions, our fear, our dismay. Such reactions seem natural and normal yet in actuality they are nothing more than instinctual and borne out of habit. We routinely invest so much emotional energy into the way that we react to life and don’t even know that this kind of living drains such a huge amount of our energy and time. It’s little wonder that the world is in such a confused state.
Things happen, so what?
In our world, things never cease to happen. Motion and change are an integral part of our reality. But stop for a moment. What would it be like to let the world happen around us and yet remain quietly centered in our awareness of being? Not in a zombie-like way but as an intensely aware point of focus. How would that change our perspective of the things that happen in and around and to us every day of our lives? How much energy would we free up within ourselves by this simple change of perspective? If we are not perpetually caught up in the goings-on of our lives we might begin to notice everything with much greater clarity and in a far more vital and dynamic way.
People often had the impression that the Maharshi was not aware of what was going on around him, they thought that he was immersed in samadhi and their ideas and projections about what that state might be like led them to believe that he was in some way separate from the world, no longer a part of it and yet exactly the opposite was true; no one was more observant, aware and dynamically present than the Maharshi. He missed nothing. From the tremendous power of his inner stillness and outer simplicity, he was far more present and vitally alive than most could ever imagine.
It is natural for us to want to right wrongs, to change things, to feel that we are in charge; to feel that we have some control over what happens to us.
It is natural for us to want to right wrongs, to change things, to feel that we are in charge; to feel that we have some control over what happens to us. This is a basic trait of human nature. The great illusion of self-identity, of ownership, of doer-ship. And yet there is another reality and even if one does not understand it, one should at least know that it exists. Within the utter simplicity of who and what we really are; the inmost central core from which our world actually arises, there exists, not just the promise, but the fact of peace and happiness.
This is not something which is outside us, it is not something which is far away. It is near, so very near that it is usually completely overlooked. The incident of the snake gives us an example of a very different way to react to our world. Whether we are aware of it or not there is an innate fullness in every moment, and if we do not project onto that our supposed thoughts and emotional reactions, then we allow ourselves the possibility of the unfolding of simplicity.
There could well have been a very different outcome to the incident of the cobra and the Maharshi. However, because the Maharshi moved from an inner core of complete awareness, instead of reacting from instincts of panic and fear which in turn would most likely have ended in a fatality, it so happened that a cobra received the blessing of direct contact with a Jnani and went peacefully on its way and the Jnani came to know the cool and soft feel of a cobra on a hot summers day.
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