The Four Snakes

The disasters in China and Burma cannot have escaped anyone’s attention this month. Life really is so uncertain … No wonder we are told to ‘put forth energy and effort, and strive relentlessly for the Goal’.

While it is right to think of the victims of the disasters, and to try and help in what ways are possible, it is also a good opportunity to reflect on your own position. You have life, health, safety, food … It is inevitable that just about everyone takes the precious situation of safety they enjoy for granted. Putting off meditation to another day, putting on a movie as a cheap but ultimately worthless escape … Here is one analogy the Buddha gave:

The Four Snakes

Imagine four snakes, of fierce heat and fearful venom. Then a man comes by who is fond of his life, not seeking death, fond of happiness and loathing pain and is charged to look after them …. Now good fellow, whenever one of these four snakes gets angry, then you will come by your death or mortal pain.

The snakes represent the Four Great Elements, Earth (solidity) Fire (heat) Water(fluidity) and air (movement). The combination of the four elements was a common way to consider the human body in India, and illness was the failure or disruption of one of these elements. When one of the snakes is roused and becomes angry – killing the one looking after them – this represents one of the elements getting so badly out of kilter that you die.

We are only happy when dreaming of future happiness – Pascal

The purpose of the analogy is to warn that your human body is going to let you down, and ultimately kill you. Time is precious, and any number of disasters lurk ready to ambush your best laid plans. As a reflection this is true enough, but the vivid imagery of the snakes is designed to help turn it from a sombre reflection into a pressing urgency to work for your merit and liberation. Monks have a chant in this regard –

The days and the nights are endlessly passing. How well am I spending my time?

On a more worldly level, there are a number of places where contributions can be made to the relief efforts. One of our regulars Jessica wrote last week :

We have been able to channel money inside now directly to local partners in both yangon and ayerwaddy areas, more is needed for them to buy goods coming down from mandalay and china. if anybody is looking for ways to support, they are welcome to donate via the bank account details, or drop in to the SNF office at 666 Charoen Nakhon Rd, Klongsan.

Burma’s cyclone
Humanitarian Aid Needed
Spirit in Education Movement (SEM) and the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) under Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation (SNF), would like to request funds to support relief work in Yangon and the Ayerwaddy delta region, through the local network of partner social activists inside the country.
If any of you wish to contribute support for the cyclone victims, please donate to:
Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation (SNF)
Registration with the Thai’s Ministry of Education, 1969
Bank Details:
Account Name :       Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation (SNF)
A/C Number:            024-2-59705-9
Bank Name :            Siam Commercial Bank
Branch :                  Charoen Nakorn
Bank Address :         Siam Commercial Bank, Charoen Nakorn Road, Klongsan, Bangkok 10600

Also the Dasa 2nd hand Book Cafe on Sukhumvit near to the Emporium has been running a reputable collection for relief aid. Some of us will be meeting there on Sunday June 1st 11:15 before going to the WBU Talk.


About Cittasamvaro

Auto blogography of an urban monk
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