The Snake And The Monk


This is a folktale from Rajasthan. I think its a great tool for addressing the concern that if you "see the light instead of the lampshade", you open yourself up to being a doormat. I see this concern amoung younger men who feel like they need to step up to every fight, or they will be seen as weak and then become the butt of abuse. "Seeing the light" doesn't mean you let people abuse you. Its just a shift in attitude that allows us to step back and make better choices.


The Snake and the Monk - a Parable

There was once a snake who terrorized a tiny village. Women, children, adored family pets he would bite them all, without a moment’s contemplation or modicum of sensitivity.

One day, a Buddhist monk visited the village. He observed the snake’s behavior and committed to teaching the snake the principle of non-violence or non-harming. As it turns out, the snake had a penchant for self-improvement and thoroughly absorbed the monk’s teachings. He loved the concept of non-violence and accepted it wholeheartedly.

Alas, once the snake refused to bite the villagers, they, in turn, exploited his newly discovered vulnerability. They threw dirt and rocks at him, poked at him with sticks, and, generally, made his life miserable. Some time later, the monk returned to find the snake bruised, beaten, and starving.

“What happened to you!” exclaimed the gentle monk. Clearly, it pained him to see his former student in such a predicament.

Sadly, the snake replied, “You taught me the principle of non-violence … You taught me not to bite people!”

“Ahhh, my friend, I did teach you not to bite people,” the monk conceded. Then, he lowered his voice to indicate the sharing of a very important secret, “But I never said that you couldn’t HISS.”


  1. Read story aloud in class.
  2. Ask how this story relates to "seeing the light." Make the point that "seeing the light" means you change the way you think about others. It does not mean you let them abuse you or take advantage of you.
  3. Seeing the light allows us to step back and not take things personally, and it actually empowers us to make better decisions to protect ourselves, rather than making us more vulnerable.
  4. There is a way of carrying yourself and presenting yourself so that you can protect yourself without having to engage in every fight.
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