The Nature of Things




Two monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a scorpion that was drowning. One monk immediately scooped it up and set it upon the bank. In the process he was stung. He went back to washing his bowl and again the scorpion fell in. The monk saved the scorpion and was again stung. The other monk asked him, "Friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know it's nature is to sting?"

"Because," the monk replied, "to save it is my nature."


(Another version of this story describes a fox who agrees to carry a scorpion on its back across a river, upon the condition that the scorpion does not sting him. But the scorpion does indeed sting the fox when they are in midstream. As the fox begins to drown, taking the scorpion with him, he pleadingly asks why the scorpion has jeopardized both of them by stinging. "Because it's my nature." This story sometimes is attributed to Native Americans lore.)


People's reactions to this story:
Despite the consequences all things can not be but what they are.

"This is an important story for me to hear right now. As times are difficult right now I have seen my tendency to want things to be "easier" or "more pleasant" or "right"... and my tendency to worry that I am not "doing the right thing" because life is painful right now... being reminded of the Nature of Things is a reminder to take these times for what they are even if they sting... to honor their nature is to honor mine... to honor mine is to honor theirs..."

"Each acts according to its nature and no amount of logic or reason overcomes our basic fundamental nature...but I think the monk could have stayed true to his nature and used the bowl for the rescue!"

"To live the life of Zen you must have.... Indefinite respect to all that has past. Indefinite service to all that is present. Responsibility to the future.... The monk was living the life of Zen. Reason is a roadblock or wall to living the way of Zen...

"The monk did that because he have been practicing the compassion for many years; the compassion becomes his nature identity, and he love to rescue or to help living beings who are in dangerous situations with out thinking about risking himself."

"Nature shows you what is right, it is your choice to listen and follow through with it no matter the cost."

"I have pondered this story for years in the version of the fox and the scorpion to try and make sense out of it. It is too easy to simplly assume the message is "that is just how things are accept them". I believe the message is focused on the monk, (fox), and their foolishness for accepting on face value the plight, ( words) of the scorpion when they already know the scorpion will sting. The question is, "why do we do foolish things when we know that what we are doing is self destructive even before we do them."

"The monk did not prejudice the scorpion for its nature being caustic or for its station being a bug. the monk was saving a life, enduring the sting as the price of adhereing to a higher principle."

"We often must do things that we know will cause harm to us, because to not do would eventually cause us the most harm."

"This story says that all suffering comes from trying to be something which one is not."



|| When Tired || True Self || Spider ||



John Suler, Ph.D. 1997 All rights reserved.