This month I finished reading quite a few great books, but today I want to share a story that really clicked with me from the book Awareness by Anthony De Mello. This is a story about coming to terms with the nature of reality, and it packs a powerful message.
This is adapted from De Mello’s website, I hope you enjoy the message as much as I did:
“When you awaken, when you understand, when you see, the world becomes right. We’re always bothered by the problem of evil. There’s a powerful story about a little boy walking along the bank of a river. He sees a crocodile who is trapped in a net. The crocodile says, “Would you have pity on me and release me? I may look ugly, but it isn’t my fault, you know. I was made this way. But whatever my external appearance, I have a mother’s heart. I came this morning in search of food for my young ones and got caught in this trap!”
There was an old donkey passing by on the bank of the river. “Donkey,” says the boy, “this is what the crocodile says. Is the crocodile right?”
The donkey says, “The crocodile is quite right. Look at me. I’ve worked and slaved for my master all my life and he barely gave me enough to eat. Now that I’m old and useless, he has turned me loose, and here I am wandering in the jungle, waiting for some wild beast to pounce on me and put an end to my life. The crocodile is right, this is the law of life, this is the way the world is.”
“See,” says the crocodile. “Let’s go!”
The boy says, “Give me one more chance, one last chance. Let me ask one other being. Remember how good I was to you?” So the crocodile says, “All right, your last chance.”
The boy sees a rabbit passing by, and he says, “Rabbit, is the crocodile right?”
The rabbit sits on his haunches and says to the crocodile, “Did you say that to that boy? The crocodile says, “Yes, I did.” “Wait a minute,” says the rabbit. “We’ve got to discuss this.” “Yes,” says the crocodile. But the rabbit says, “How can we discuss it when you’ve got that boy in your mouth? Release him; he’s got to take part in the discussion, too.” The crocodile says, “You’re a clever one, you are. The moment I release him, he’ll run away.” The rabbit says, “I thought you had more sense than that. If he attempted to run away, one slash of your tail would kill him.”
“Fair enough,” says the crocodile, and he released the boy. The moment the boy is released, the rabbit says, “Run!” And the boy runs and escapes. Then the rabbit says to the boy, “Don’t you enjoy crocodile flesh? Wouldn’t the people in your village like a good meal? You didn’t really release that crocodile; most of his body is still caught in that net. Why don’t you go to the village and bring everybody and have a banquet.”
That’s exactly what the boy does. He goes to the village and calls all the men folk. They come with their axes and staves and spears and kill the crocodile. The boy’s dog comes, too, and when the dog sees the rabbit, he gives chase, catches hold of the rabbit, and throttles him. The boy comes on the scene too late, and as he watches the rabbit die, he says, “The crocodile was right, this is the way the world is, this is the law of life.”
Think about the message of this story for a moment.
There is no use worrying about, attempting to control, or attempting to change the nature of the world around you. The only thing left for us to do is to accept those aspects of reality that we can’t change, and to grow in the areas that we can grow.
Further Reading: Awareness by Anthony De Mello