The Spider and The Sage a story of Kindness

from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nemo

I would rather be fooled than not believe.

In India, there is a story about a kind, quiet man who would pray in the Ganges River every morning.  One day after praying, he saw a poisonous spider struggling in the water and cupped his hands to carry it ashore.  As he placed the spider on the ground, it stung him. Unknowingly,  his prayers for the world diluted the poison.  

     The next day the same thing happened.  On the third day, the kind man was knee deep in the river,  and sure enough, there was the spider,  legs frantic in the water.  As the man went to  lift the creature yet again, the spider said,  “Why do you keep lifting me? Can’t you see I will sting you even time, because that is what I do?”  

     There are many reasons to be kind, but perhaps none is as compelling as the spiritual fact that it is what we do. It is how the inner organ of being keeps pumping.  Spiders sting.  Wolves howl.  Ants build small hills that no one sees. And human beings lift each other, no matter the consequence. Even when other beings sting.

     Some say this makes us a sort lot that never learns, but to me it holds the same beauty as berries breaking through ice and snow every spring.  It is what quietly feeds the world.  After all, the berries do not have any sense of purpose or charity.  They are not altruistic or self-sacrificing. They simply grow to be delicious because that is what they do.

     As for us, if things fall, we will reach for them.  If things break, we will try to put them together.  If loved ones cry, we will try to soothe them  —  because that is what we do.  I have often reached out, and sometimes it feels like a mistake.  Sometimes, like the quiet man lifting the spider, I have been stung.  But it doesn’t matter, because that is what I do.  That is what we do.  It is the reaching our that is more important than the sting.  In truth, I’d rather be fooled than not believe.

Nemo continues with several opportunities for consideration:

  • Recall a time when you were kind for no reason.

    It could have been as simple as picking up what a stranger dropped. Or leaving  an apple in the path of hungry birds.

  •   Meditate on what such acts have done for you. After being kind have you felt lighter, more energized, younger, more open in your heart?