Knowledge starts with the snake

Knowledge starts with a snake

Brahim was somewhere in the dark and all of sudden he saw a snake coming at him. He did not run away. He was neither scared nor craving to encounter the snake. He continued to do whatever it is that he was doing and the snake kept coming near him. It touched his right knee and although he moved it away, the snake kept on touching him. Slowly, he felt something moving from his feet up to his head and without realizing it, fear had taken the best of him. He was so frightened and he did not know where to go. When panic reached its peak, he woke up. It was only a dream.

He woke up around 3:00 am in shock. He tried to go back to sleep but he kept on seeing the snake coming at him. Even when he had his eyes opened, the snake was still looking at him. Unable to find sleep, Brahim left his bed, changed his clothes and went for a walk. Every step he was making, the snake was following him. At one point he even started running but whatever he was doing, the snake was around him.

Realizing that there was nothing he could do to stop the snake from following him, he turned around and told the snake that he did not want it to be near him. He stressed that he wanted to be left alone. The snake looked at him and disappeared. Brahim was surprised. He could not believe that the simple fact that he ordered the snake to go was enough for him to leave.

He then wondered, what made him so scared of the snake. Why couldn’t he reason carefully without being scared? There he was in the middle of a storming night, completely wet, running away from a snake that was only in his head when all he needed to do was to ask it to leave and it would have been the end of his problem. He was frozen and went back in his house. He took a shower and got back in his bed. In the morning, he went to work but he could not focus. He was just looking at his watch and begging that the end of the day arrives so that he could go see someone to whom he could ask questions about snakes. In the middle of the day, he called his imam and told him about his story. The imam referred Brahim to a Sufi master because he could not handle those kind of stories himself. He called the Sufi and he scheduled an appointment with him for the same day around 6:00pm.

As soon as Brahim saw 5:00pm on the clock, he left his office and run at the Sufi’s house. He was welcomed and was offered a tea that he gladly accepted. He sat down and explained everything that had happened to him and he asked the Sufi why he overreacted the way he did about snake and why the snake seemed to obey to his wishes.

The Sufi asked him what exactly the snake represented to him. Brahim said that they were cold, they crawled, they wormed their way into everything, they always came by surprise, they slipped into places where they are unwanted, they always hided their games, they adapted themselves to everything, nobody knew where they stood. They could go everywhere and they were unpredictable.

The Sufi listened and looked at him and said: “Do you like snakes?” Brahim: “I hate them. Who in his reasonable mind could love such animal? Of course I don’t like them.” The Sufi: “You said yourself about the snake that it could adapt itself to everything. Right or wrong?” Brahim nodded. The Sufi: “is that a bad quality to have?” Brahim: “no, but it is very sneaky.”

The Sufi: “for a snake to be sneaky, tell me something I don’t know! When someone adapts himself to everything, people usually consider that as something great. When someone is able to get his way, he is often seen as somebody very capable. When someone is strategising, if he hides his games, people will applaud him. When you know that a group is hostile to your thoughts, what we are inclined to do is to hide what we think. When you are saying “yes” all the times to whatever your boss is saying even if you disagree with him, some people might call that crawling. Now, here is my question to you: which snake are you afraid of?”

Brahim observed the Sufi as if he had just been slapped and he said: “snakes are bad, everybody knows that. If they bite you, they will give you venom and you will die”

The Sufi: “You are telling me that when somebody attacks the snake, if it bites him, the person will most likely die. It means it knows how to defend itself. It just needs to give you one bite and it would be the end of you. This is a remarkable combatant. In a fight, when somebody can destroy you with just one blow, isn’t it considered as something great? As for the coldness, sometimes our hands are cold or when we die, our body is cold but the snake is still alive even if his body is cold. We have much to envy to that animal. When we stand up, it is crawling, when we are warm, it is cold, where we try to have clarity, it gives nuances, where we want stability, its body can move up and down without any problem, when we hear that we can not do something, most of us usually stop but the snake will get its way no matter what. There are much to love about snakes.”

Brahim: “what are you saying?”

The Sufi: “I am not saying anything. I am just stating the facts. The snake does most of the things we do but we do not want to admit to ourselves that we do them. Perhaps, we wish we were like snakes but we can not. We are just afraid of what would be the consequences of our actions in our conscience for those who still have one or how our reputation will suffer from those actions. We do those things and we try to lie to ourselves that we did not do them. The snake is perfectly comfortable with the way he is. We wish we had his freedom.”

Brahim: “are you saying that we are snakes? Or that I am a snake”

The Sufi: “the snake came to visit you, not me. He obeyed to you, not me. I am not saying that you are a snake but there is a snake around you. There is a snake inside you and thank God there is one because if there was none, you would not be able to live in this life. You would not be able to adapt yourself to different situations. You would not be able to survive everything that is on this earth. Up in the sky and in the cosmos, things are extremely clear. Once you received your instructions from above, you need to implement them on this earth and you need the power of the snake. The snake within you has awakened last night. It means that as soon as you will receive instructions from above, you will be able to implement them. It does not mean that you should torture people but you should nuanced your thoughts and be able to find the way to implement or to get what you want without loosing yourself. You should adapt what you are to every situation without loosing who you are. That’s the power of the snake. Never judge a situation, just carry on to your mission. Your power depends on your ability to crawl when necessary, to adapt when it is needed, to capture the little subtleties when they arise and to remain calm, almost unseen from everybody. You should surprise everyone and be completely unpredictable. The only venom you will inject to people is the word of Allah.”

Brahim: “are you telling me that there is a snake inside me? What is it doing in me? Why is it with me? I don’t want it to be in me.”

The Sufi: “you can reject it as you did last night and live in fear of something that sleeps within you or you can decide that you are going to live a real life instead of living a life that looks like a life. What is that mean for us that we have a cold body? It means that we are dead but the snake still lives even with a cold body. Therefore we want to live after death. We wish we could be snakes. Maybe you are not like that. Maybe you can push back the snake again but you will never know what you are missing.”

Brahim: “are you saying that I am going to have to let snakes around me next time they come around”

The Sufi: “It is even worst than that. I am saying that you need to call the snake in order for him to teach you. You rejected him and now in order for him to come, you are going to have to beg him. He obeys to you therefore, you have nothing to fear. It will not do anything against you. When you will sleep, let him come next to you and tell him that you are ready to listen to him.”

Brahim: “I am confused.” The Sufi: “you don’t have to do it tonight but whenever you feel ready, call it and you will see.”

Brahim thanked the Sufi and left. He walked back home and he was no longer afraid. A week later, he past by the Sufi’s house and wanted to thank him for everything he did. He knocked on his door and a woman came out and he asked to speak to the Sufi and she told him that there was never a Sufi in that building. He told her that he came there a week ago and she looked at him rather surprised. She told him that they owned the house for the last 30 years and there was never anyone who was Sufi in their house and she closed the door.

Brahim looked at the house and did not know what to think. Maybe, snakes were everywhere. You never know where they are and when they appear but when they come it is for a good reason and we should listen to them because they have a lot to teach to us. They are at our service as much as we are at theirs. Knowledge starts with the snake.


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