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Arty Farty Friday

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Arty Farty Friday Brian Gysin  William S Burroughs
Arty Farty Friday
Brian Gysin
William S Burroughs

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The cut-up and the closely associated fold-in are the two main techniques:

Cut-up is performed by taking a finished and fully linear text and cutting it in pieces with a few or single words on each piece. The resulting pieces are then rearranged into a new text, such as in poems by Tristan Tzara as described in his short text, TO MAKE A DADAIST POEM.[1]
Fold-in is the technique of taking two sheets of linear text (with the same linespacing), folding each sheet in half vertically and combining with the other, then reading across the resulting page, such as in The Third Mind. It is Burroughs and Gysin’s joint development.[2]
History in literature Edit

A precedent of the technique occurred during a Dadaist rally in the 1920s in which Tristan Tzara offered to create a poem on the spot by pulling words at random from a hat. Collage, which was popularized roughly contemporaneously with the Surrealist movement, sometimes incorporated texts such as newspapers or brochures. Prior to this event, the technique had been published in an issue of 391 in the poem by Tzara, dada manifesto on feeble love and bitter love under the sub-title, TO MAKE A DADAIST POEM.[3][1]

William Burroughs cited T. S. Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land (1922) and John Dos Passos’ U.S.A. trilogy, which incorporated newspaper clippings, as early examples of the cut ups he popularized.

Gil J. Wolman developed cut-up techniques as part of his lettrist practice in the early 1950s.

Also in the 1950s, painter and writer Brion Gysin more fully developed the cut-up method after accidentally re-discovering it. He had placed layers of newspapers as a mat to protect a tabletop from being scratched while he cut papers with a razor blade. Upon cutting through the newspapers, Gysin noticed that the sliced layers offered interesting juxtapositions of text and image. He began deliberately cutting newspaper articles into sections, which he randomly rearranged. The book Minutes to Go resulted from his initial cut-up experiment: unedited and unchanged cut-ups which emerged as coherent and meaningful prose. South African poet Sinclair Beiles also used this technique and co-authored Minutes To Go.

Gysin introduced Burroughs to the technique at the Beat Hotel. The pair later applied the technique to printed media and audio recordings in an effort to decode the material’s implicit content, hypothesizing that such a technique could be used to discover the true meaning of a given text. Burroughs also suggested cut-ups may be effective as a form of divination saying, “When you cut into the present the future leaks out.”[4] Burroughs also further developed the “fold-in” technique. In 1977, Burroughs and Gysin published The Third Mind, a collection of cut-up writings and essays on the form. Jeff Nuttall’s publication My Own Mag was another important outlet for the then-radical technique.

In an interview, Alan Burns noted that for Europe After The Rain (1965) and subsequent novels he used a version of cut-ups: “I did not actually use scissors, but I folded pages, read across columns, and so on, discovering for myself many of the techniques Burroughs and Gysin describe”

 

disclosure

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American spin

financial concerns have peppered my emotional well being since last fall. i took a position which just didn’t cut paying the bills and i was caught off guard by my struggle to get back on track. i then applied for a position with the state but when complied with a mandatory integrity interview was sent a dear john letter deeming me a drug trafficker even though there is no history of drug sales either on or off the books_certainly no charges of such. this was a huge blow to my psyche. whatever karma i was working through, it had a cost and i fell into depression. only these last few weeks am i able to feel relief. i have changed positions, am training another group of recovery coaches, am starting a small radio show, getting a room mate to help with expenses, getting a part time gig, and hopefully producing denver’s 1st sober- pride dance. my life feels fuller and more technicolor.

this is a time for gratitude for me. i am certainly blessed to be connected to such hearty  resilience after all these years.

song yet to be sung

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“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie,
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie,

 

i have spent the last week trying to double dutch my dual-circling jump ropes of ritual-de la habitual. i am clueless whether i will ever ace this thing, but damn- it’s a gift to be able to try.

november is the month for being thankful. and my remembrance during 11/2015 is reflecting on the distance traveled. at dinner this evening i spoke with a friend about how much had changed in the 18 months he has been in recovery. on the drive home, i realized it had honestly been quite some time since i thoughtfully looked back to remember how things were with the intention of seeing the the drastic difference and the gifts i have been given. so here goes

  1. there is no doubt in my mind that sanity would not be woven into my life without recovery. the ability to see myself in the mirror and not cringe or silently disembowel my character has more value than price can give.
  2.  i have learned to sit quietly with myself and enjoy the company. it took 45 (almost 50) years for me to ace that trick.
  3. i have lived at the same address since 2007- aside from my childhood home, this is the longest i have been in one place throughout my adult life.
  4. the trenches left by the claws of childhood trauma have finally begun to support new life. although i still think of packing the trunk, loading the wagon, and taking off for the hills, i have learned to pause and try to see things from another perspective. this is certainly progress not perfection.
  5. i have also made a healthy start in re-establishing a relationship with most of my family. this means a relationship with boundaries. ‘
  6. in closing, i have reached a point in my life that affords me the luxury of assisting others. among all the blessings bestowed upon me since i said “uncle”, the opportunity to have worth and purpose outweighs the rest.

i hope you all have a rich and bountiful month (or more) of thankfulness. my heart is filled with light this season.

Let me tell you

You’re at the Jubilee or you’re all alone
Because the more, the merrier is how
Friends all tell me so
The birds wake up the grass

And they tell everybody
Say it’s time to grow
The sun, whispers to the birds
Oh, the song yet to be sung

Song yet to be sung
(Song yet to be sung)
The song yet to be sung

making art

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 so therefore, i dedicate myself to myself, to my art, my sleep , my dreams, my labors,my suffrances,my loneliness my unique madness, my endless absorption and hunger. because i cannot dedicate myself to any fellow being. — Ask me anything....hakikaten

so therefore,
i dedicate myself to myself,
to my art, my sleep , my dreams,
my labors,my sufferance ,my loneliness
my unique madness,
my endless absorption
and hunger.
because i cannot dedicate myself to any fellow being. —
Ask me anything….hakikaten

is it possible that there is a  recurring and built-in labyrinth in a spiral design that my life leads me to walk through as the autumn moon moves across the sky? so many puzzle pieces of my life seem to be familiarly shaped and hued, however it is not clear how they fit together.

i have been busy transforming my nest. new floors, new cabinets, removing a wall, adding storage, new lighting,  updated the bath, re-purposing and rearranging all 4 rooms in my tiny townhouse. certainly this is a metaphor for a deeper calling. if i look to “the velvet rage”, i might think that i might be trying to make my world look better than it feels. definitely there is something primal about changing the way things look. it is a comforting action. it is soothing.

i have not been certain about what direction to take next in my avocation. i do want to create a training entity, but haven’t gotten clarity regarding a pathway. i met with a former colleague to discuss helping with board development and the next steps for 501c3 evolution. the take-away was positive but controlled and i am far from a conservative creature with a subtle emotional body.

my experience with self-reflection about my work remains relatively small. recovery has been my companion for only 11 years. my strong suit is most-definitely impulse. it is strange to say the least to consider repercussions and consequences.  so here i am in front of a blank canvas, considering what strokes, which colors, and what types of brush strokes to apply.

help me, universe, become strong enough to listen to your voice and let it guide me to the next campground. let it be so.

“England”

Someone send a runner
Through the weather that I’m under
For the feeling that I lost today
Someone send a runner
For the feeling that I lost todaySomeone send a runner
Through the weather that I’m under
For the feeling that I lost today
Someone send a runner
For the feeling that I lost today

You must be somewhere in London
You must be loving your life in the rain
You must be somewhere in London
Walking Abbey Lane

I don’t even think to make
I don’t even think to make
I don’t even think to make corrections

Famous angels never come through England
England gets the ones you never need
I’m in a Los Angeles cathedral
Minor singing airheads sing for me

Put an ocean and a river
Between everybody else,
Between everything, yourself, and home
Put an ocean and a river
Between everything, yourself, and home

You must be somewhere in London
You must be loving your life in the rain
You must be somewhere in London
Walking Abbey Lane

I don’t even think to make
I don’t even think to make
I don’t even think to make corrections

recovery coach academy (rca) colorado needs you….. love on the run

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Abstract Resources beyond self and family to resolve significant alcohol and other drug problems have historically been provided in two venues: professionally directed addiction treatment and peer-based recovery mutual aid. Recently, recovery support organizations have emerged that share characteristics of both venues, what we identify as hybrid mutual aid (HMA). The purpose of this article is to offer a conceptual framework for HMA followed by analysis of the philosophical positions and practices of two contemporary HMA groups. The integration of these practices has the potential to impact group emergence and maintenance, while raising significant ethical questions related to governance and fiscal management...
Abstract
Resources beyond self and family to resolve significant alcohol and other drug problems have historically been provided in two venues: professionally directed addiction treatment and peer-based recovery mutual aid. Recently, recovery support organizations have emerged that share characteristics of both venues, what we identify as hybrid mutual aid (HMA). The purpose of this article is to offer a conceptual framework for HMA followed by analysis of the philosophical positions and practices of two contemporary HMA groups. The integration of these practices has the potential to impact group emergence and maintenance, while raising significant ethical questions related to governance and fiscal management…

the film “groundhog day” is a fairly well-known metaphor for addiction because the lead character is stuck in a world with the same events and the same outcome every single day. commonplace dogma in the recovery world is that it’s insanity to do the same thing over and over expecting different results i.e. if your life is in disarray from your partying,  and continue drinking and using in the same manner, all the while believing a different outcome will happen is a form of insanity. it’s not until bill murray starts to make changes that the outcomes start to change too and when he changes everything, his whole world and the outcomes transform.

in working in the treatment community for about a decade, an irony has revealed itself to me. treatment providers and the governmental organizations that oversee those services seem to be living in that very same “groundhog day”. the federal monies commandeered to address coloradans with behavioral health issues continue to be dispersed in mostly the same same way as earlier years even when the outcomes do not show improvement. certainly that is how mass incarceration became such an easy solution. putting someone in prison becomes an illusion which gives the appearance that the problem has gone away when the problem has really only been hidden from plain view.

so the insanity is revealed when the treatment provider community keeps doing the same things every day expecting a different outcome. there is dialogue that peer involvement (proven success) is important from every level of our state officials. but there is little evidence of anything more than talk. our mental health and substance programs may have bits and sprinkles of peer support, however the system remains unchanged and continues to do things in the same fashion expecting different results.

rca colorado remains committed to a more foundational change to our system of prevention, treatment, and recovery. we fully believe that people who have found personal success have equally important input into our system as do the folks who are trying to run businesses and manage p & l’s.  and we are excited about this challenge.

in moving forward with the recovery coach training process and the collaboration with colorado mental wellness network, it becomes clear that there are volunteer needs on many levels. it is going to be interesting, and challenging, and exciting to begin and take part this process. we hope to meet some fantastic folks along the way. we need you.

rca colorado needs:

  1. a space/building to house meetings, coaching, job support, trainings, board meetings.
  2. board members with business or development savvy.
  3. board members with mental health, recovery, family involvement, legal system, insight and experience.
  4. diverse community participation at all levels.
  5. empathetic recovery coach mentors .
  6. internet tech and internet design gurus.
  7. passion for recovery and recovery support.
  8. healthy desire to change the system.
  9. creative brain(s) to document the next chapter of our story.
  10. fundraising champions.

this is certainly a very first step in mapping out the future of rca colorado. if you are interested in starting a conversation with us or participating, please contact me at rod@rodrushing.com. our community deserves a change and we hope to be a positive part of that evolution.

in lieu of posting a clip of “groundhog day” i am opting for the video for “love on the run” by chicane- it’s good 90’s electronica, and the video is really cute.

adaptation

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Do Not Believe in Anything Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations But after observation and analysis when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all then accept it and live up to it.... buddha
Do Not Believe in Anything
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations
But after observation and analysis when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all then accept it and live up to it…. Buddha

 

the committee assembled to push through the peer credential for colorado has deemed that 60 hours of education is the minimum requirement. as a peer run organization, colorado mental wellness network has committed ourselves to delivering peer run trainings for peer support specialists. cmwn has developed its own curriculum for peer specialists in the mental health field.

i was fortunate enough to bring the recovery coach training from ccar to round out their offerings more. the ccar training runs about 40 hours and is certainly short of the 60 required for credentialing. i have been in discussion with ccar and am bringing on 2 additional trainings- ethical considerations for coaches and spirituality for recovery coaches.

here is ccar’s description of the ethical considerations:

Ethical Considerations in Recovery Coaching:  Version 2.0 Description:

Recovery coaching as a peer-to-peer recovery support services has grown exponentially over the past four years. Over 2000 coaches have been trained using the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy alone. The issue of ethical consideration has been discussed in many circles yet formal training has been lacking. This two day training addresses this critical need. Using presentations, small group work, role play and a decision making matrix many areas will be addressed including: defining the coaching service role and functions, coaching standards, issues of vulnerability, ethical decision making, performance enhancement and legal issues.  Space is limited.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will:
  • Understand what ethics are and why ethics are so important when performing Recovery Coach Services
  • Learn how to stay in your lane as a recovery coach
  • Understand the decision making process
  • Develop guidelines for making ethical decisions
  • Apply the new learning to your every day work as an RC

and here is the published description of spirituality for coaches.

Spirituality for Recovery Coaches

CCAR is thrilled to announce a new training program as a supplement to our nationally recognized Recovery Coaches Academy, entitled. Spirituality for Recovery Coaches. While training the RCA, CCAR has been gathering feedback and making plans to offer additional training opportunities for Recovery Coaches. Deciding on which topics to cover for follow-up trainings has been difficult. As the role of the recovery coach begins to take shape across the country, it became evident to us that recovery coaches need to would like to know more about themselves before fully supporting and mentoring someone else.

The purpose of this session is to help you as a recovery coach understand what spirituality is and how you would help someone in their own process of discovering spirituality. This two day course will help you explore your own beliefs and values as it comes to spirituality. This training will provide you with the tools and resources needed as a recovery coach so you can speak about spirituality in a way that is accepting of others.

Just like the RCA, this training is going to challenge you in a way that helps to promote your own understanding of spirituality. We believe that spirituality plays a large part in recovery and hope that by completing this course, you will be able to help those you serve understand, accept and embrace spirituality for themselves.

We will be working to adapt the offerings we currently have to meet the requirements for the new colorado credential. my desire is to include several hours of record keeping and documentation- or perhaps we will just create a separate class. there is also a need for family support ideals and nuances to be included, especially since our official credential will be multi-disciplined.

either way- we have some work ahead- and sometap dancing to do. and in the meantime, we will continue to change the conversation from treatment issues to re-integration issues. long term recovery is re-integration.

stay tuned- www.coloradomentalwellnessnetwork.org

 

 

a sunday kind of love…. everything but the girl

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“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” ~Alice Morse Earle
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” ~Alice Morse Earle

with national recovery month in mind, today’s “sunday kind of love” offering is a full album of acoustic recording of the amazing tracy thorne and everything but the girl. her voice has always pulled at my heart strings in far too many ways to delineate.

please just take the time to hug someone in your life who is in recovery. and then make a little more time to remind someone who is in addiction that recovery is possible. because it is possible. and it’s a miracle.

 

tic

sunday kind of love- the cure

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MTV's acclaimed acoustic music series showcases the work of today's top artists and introduces the stars of tomorrow. The series' roster runs the gamut from pop mainstays like Katy Perry, Paramore, Adam Lambert, and Alicia Keys, to indie darlings such as Phoenix, Silversun Pickups, and Lykke Li. ‘Unplugged' is an unrivaled listening experience that exposes the raw talent of your favorite artists. The beloved franchise got its start in 1989 and in the span of more than two decades has featured such iconic artists as Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey, Nirvana, Bob Dylan, Kiss, Lauryn Hill, and Oasis. The explosion of renewed interest in Folk and acoustic music in general in the late 80s led to the birth of the series, which now also appears on MTV sister networks Vh1 and CMT. Vh1's ‘Storytellers' is a direct offshoot of ‘Unplugged' with behind-the-scenes and interview footage interspersed with the performances.
MTV’s acclaimed acoustic music series showcases the work of today’s top artists and introduces the stars of tomorrow. The series’ roster runs the gamut from pop mainstays like Katy Perry, Paramore, Adam Lambert, and Alicia Keys, to indie darlings such as Phoenix, Silversun Pickups, and Lykke Li. ‘Unplugged’ is an unrivaled listening experience that exposes the raw talent of your favorite artists. The beloved franchise got its start in 1989 and in the span of more than two decades has featured such iconic artists as Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey, Nirvana, Bob Dylan, Kiss, Lauryn Hill, and Oasis. The explosion of renewed interest in Folk and acoustic music in general in the late 80s led to the birth of the series, which now also appears on MTV sister networks Vh1 and CMT. Vh1’s ‘Storytellers’ is a direct offshoot of ‘Unplugged’ with behind-the-scenes and interview footage interspersed with the performances.

battle flag

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the past is catching up no escape from this mental hell reliving it again.... ptsd haiku
the past is catching up
no escape from this mental hell
reliving it again…. ptsd haiku

When things fall apart and we’re on the verge of we know not what, the test for each of us is to stay on that brink and not concretize.  The spiritual journey is not about heaven and finally getting to a place that’s really swell.  In fact, that way of looking at things is what keeps us miserable.  Thinking that we can find some lasting pleasure and avoid pain is what in Buddhism is called samsara, a hopeless cycle that goes round and round endlessly and causes us to suffer greatly.  The very first noble truth of Buddha points out that suffering is inevitable for human beings as long as we believe that things last – that they don’t disintegrate, that they can be counted on to satisfy our hunger for security.  From this point of view, the only time we ever know what’s really going on is when the rug’s been pulled out and we can’t find anywhere to land.  We use these situations either to wake ourselves up or to put ourselves to sleep.  Right now – in the very instant of groundlessness – is the seed of taking care of those who need our care of discovering our goodness… 

Life is a good teacher and a good friend.  Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it.  Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about.  The off-centre, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit.  It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs.

To stay with that shakiness – to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge – that is the path of true awakening.  Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic – that is the spiritual path.  Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of gentling and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior…”

i am emerging from another bout, albeit minimal, of the resurgence of a tidal wave of memory. it’s really astonishing how very technicolor and widescreen trauma can be.

thank you universe for allowing me the grace to remain upright after the whoosh of synapses.

Your construction
Smells of corruption
I manipulate to recreate
This air to ground saga
Gotta launder my karma

I said hallelujah to the sixteen loyal fans
You’ll get down on your mothafuckin’ knees
And it’s time for your sickness again
Come on and tell me what you need
Tell me what is making you bleed
We got two more minutes and
We gonna cut to what you need
So one of six so tell me
One do you want to live
And one of seven tell me
Is it time for your mothafuckin’ ass to give
Tell me is it time to get down on your mothafuckin’ knees
Tell me is it time to get down

I’m blown to the maxim
Two hemispheres battlin’
I’m blown to the maxim
Two hemispheres battlin’
Suckin’ up, one last breath
Take a drag off of death

lo fidelity all stars… lyrics fisk/smith

my own damn nature

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If right now our emotional reaction to seeing a certain person or hearing certain news is to fly into a rage or to get despondent or something equally extreme, it's because we have been cultivating that particular habit for a very long time. Pema Chodron
If right now our emotional reaction to seeing a certain person or hearing certain news is to fly into a rage or to get despondent or something equally extreme, it’s because we have been cultivating that particular habit for a very long time.
Pema Chodronow

 

Terra Cotta Warrior Asleep on His Feet, Xian, China

Snakes and humans were always close friends until one summer a cobra was dozing on a rock in the sun and a farmer accidentally stepped on his tail. Before he was even fully awake, the startled cobra bit the farmer on the ankle. When the snake and the farmer realized what had happened, there was nothing that could be done. The farmer’s ankle swelled and turned purple and a streak of black traveled up a vein in his leg. When it reached his heart, the farmer gasped and stopped breathing, his soul slipping out of his eyes like it was wiggling out of a sack.

Hearing his screams, the villagers rushed to the farmer just as he expired. The cobra wished he could explain that he meant no harm and was sorry, but when their attention turned to him, he felt their anger and hurried off. The villagers saw him slide away just as they found the two holes in the center of the blackest part of the wound. There was no doubt what had happened. The farmer had no reason to harm the snake. Every farmer thought well of snakes because they kept the rodents down. And the bite was at back of his foot, which means he was attacked from behind. The humans had a new enemy.

The villagers were too afraid to harvest the fields. Instead they armed themselves with rakes and shovels and fortified their village, keeping a fire burning through the night. But they knew that if they did nothing soon, the vegetables they would need to survive the winter would rot in the fields.

One day news arrived that Buddha had arrived in the next town on pilgrimage. The fastest runner in the village ran half a day to find him. He found Buddha on the road, and threw himself at his feet. “Oh, Lord Buddha, my entire village may not live through winter if we cannot make peace with the cobra that is terrorizing our town. We will die without your help.” Buddha had other obligations, and told the boy they would have to solve their problem without his help. But the boy persisted and prostrated himself and asked Buddha three times, and Buddha could not refuse him.

Buddha followed the young man back to his village and walked into the fields, calling for Mister Snake. He eventually found him sleeping in the withered cornfield. “Mister Snake,” said the Buddha, “Why did you bite the farmer? The wailing you hear is his family weeping over his blackened body. What will come from that bite? Famine for others I fear, and a painful end for yourself. Worse, there will be enmity between humans and snakes for generations to come. Who will pity you when you have brought this catastrophe on your entire species?”

“I do not need justification for what I have done,” answered the snake. “I was startled and my instincts bit him and the poison that Nature put in my tongue killed him. If you are looking for someone to blame, blame the one who designed it so. If there is anyone else to blame here, the farmer is more at fault than I am. If he had stepped on my head instead of my tail who would be wailing now? Still, I grieve his inattentiveness and my part in his death more than anyone will ever know.”

“Believe whatever you wish, but the villagers do not know you were stepped on, nor do they care to question the obvious—you bit the farmer and he’s dead. When the head of a clan has been killed, it is as natural to want revenge as it is to strike when one is startled out of sleep. It is too late to change the past, but you can still influence the future. If this is not your fault—as it seems not to be—you will earn extra merit for behaving nobly in a difficult situation and earn heavenly grace, I am certain. Would you rather wither with your cornfield, nuzzling your pride, or behave like the King of Snakes you are and go to meet the enemy, without shield or weapon, and negotiate peace, not only for your sake and the farmer’s family but for generations yet unborn? Two futures are possible for you, depending on what you choose to do next.”

And with that Buddha blessed the snake, and urged him again to consider well what he did next, and then the Awakened One continued on his pilgrimage.

Two days later the Awakened One was returning from his pilgrimage and decided to see how the situation with the snake had worked out. As he approached the village he saw a flock of vultures, circling a spot in the cornfield. Buddha made his way through the stubble and found the snake, who was barely breathing, his body bloodied, twisted, torn. “Mister Snake,” sighed Lord Buddha, “What has become of you?”

“Oh, Lord Buddha, I heard the wisdom in your words and knew what I had to do. As you advised, I approached the farmer’s house, without shield or weapon. I pledged myself not to strike, even at the risk of my own death. I approached the young boy who was on duty and he rang a bell to alert the townspeople that they were under attack. When the villagers assembled I saw the faces that used to nod and smile when we passed on the road now darkened and disfigured by fear.

“I slid closer and turned my back to them and rolled over, defenseless, and waited for what was to come. After a few moments, I felt someone poke me with a stick, and then someone threw a stone that struck me. When I didn’t flee, they kicked me and crushed my spine with a stone. Then they picked up my limp body with a rake and threw me deep into the cornfield, where you found me.

“At first, the pain didn’t feel like pain; it was like drinking bubbles in champagne. And I even laughed at the absurdity of what was happening—that a guiltless death would be paid for by a guiltless one’s sacrifice, and the final irony was that no one but he would ever know of his sacrifice. For the villagers this would be the story of a cobra that went crazy and how the village rose to defeat him. The villagers would look at snakes more cautiously in the future, perhaps, but there would not be a war between the snakes and mankind for all time.

“But slowly that feeling passed and my mouth was full of dust and blood and I could not move my body out of the blistering sun and instead could only cough in the dirt. The day dragged painfully into evening and a frigid night followed. And then the morning sun swelled to fill the afternoon sky, and the vultures began to circle, and I realized that I was going to die of thirst, but not for another day or two.

“Why hadn’t I been allowed to die at the height of ecstasy, before the pain began, I wondered. Why was my sacrifice not enough? Why was it fated that I should also suffer this additional agony and indignity as well?

“And I remembered your advice—that two futures lay in store for me, depending on my choice, and I suddenly realized how I might have misunderstood your advice. How could it have ended worse if I chosen differently? Even the farmer died quickly and was mourned by his family. He was even mourned by the one who would be one day asked to pay the price for his misstep.

“But now, in my darkest moment of doubt and grief, you have returned to fulfill your promise. You have returned to rescue me from my suffering, to personally escort me into heaven in return for the merit I have earned by following your advice even unto the ultimate sacrifice. And in return, the Great Lord Buddha himself has come to end my suffering and take me with him into Nirvana!”

“But Mister Snake,” sighed the Buddha, “I never said you couldn’t hiss.”