June 29, 2007

My buddha nature...or not.

This friend of mine had this great Buddha story: the Buddha is walking along with a friend and encounters a scorpion stuck in the crevice of a tree. As he reached in to free the scorpion, he is stung, just before the little critter scurries away. His companion asked, disbelieving, "why did you stick your own hand in to free the scorpion?" The Buddha replied, "I can change my nature no more than the scorpion can change his."

For awhile now, I've gone back to this story when I've reached out compassionately to "scorpions" and occasionally got stung. And I've pushed myself to keep true to my own better nature, sometimes regardless of the impending sting.

But now I have some questions for the Buddha: would he keep rescuing the same scorpion over and over if it kept wandering willy-nilly into harm's way? And if the sting was lethal? Or if the scorpion went on to sting others close by, particulary loved ones? Does there come a point when it is fruitless to keep rescuing this scorpion? Or is the Buddha's nature that one-sided, that it truly is his only option to stick his hand in to be stung over and over?

If that's the case, I'm happy to say I'm not a Buddhist. I might be slow to try new tactics, always striving to deliberately choose love and kindness, but if that's no longer working and the same problems keep arising, I think there comes a time to try something different. Because some scorpions are not just scorpions. And sometimes, it's probably best to let them get out of their own mess.

Jesus was quick to point out that you shouldn't waste your precious energy on people who aren't receptive. "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town." Sometimes, what we have to give is too precious to waste on scorpions.


vegan.mama said...

I'm not a Buddhist, but it's my understanding that if you find yourself getting stung all the time and it's impeding your progress in life, then you need to ask yourself whether that is TRULY in your nature or not.

Some people accept getting stung because they are kind and compassionate and have the capacity to accept pain in exchange for helping other people, but other people find themselves getting stung ALL THE TIME because they are dysfunctional themselves. And as we attain deeper levels of self-awareness and heal from past hurts, we realize that if we have the tendency to get stung, we need to start inhabiting the spaces where scorpions are least likely to be found.

Or something like that.

Anima Sola said...

Veganmama said, "...we need to start inhabiting the spaces where scorpions are least likely to be found."

WORD UP. That's my plan. Avoiding scorpions should really be pretty easy. If proximity is all that is essential, I'm sure I'll have no problems.

And for sure, I couldn't even begin to equate my true nature with the Buddha's. Sigh.

vegan.mama said...

I don't know - I'm starting to think scorpions are everywhere. Sigh.