The Horseman and the Snake
THERE is a proverb that ‘the “opposition” of the man of knowledge is better than the “support” of the fool.’
I, Salim Abdali, bear witness that this is true in the greater ranges of existence, as it is true in the lower levels.
This is made manifest in the tradition of the Wise, who have handed down the tale of the Horseman and the Snake.
A horseman from his point of vantage saw a poisonous snake slip down the throat of a sleeping man. The horseman realized that if the man were allowed to sleep the venom would surely kill him.
Accordingly he lashed the sleeper until he was awake. Having no time to lose, he forced this man to a place where there were a number of rotten apples lying upon the ground and made him eat them. Then he made him drink large gulps of water from a stream.
All the while the other man was trying to get away, crying: ‘What have I done, you enemy of humanity, that you should abuse me in this manner?’
Finally, when he was near to exhaustion, and dusk was falling, the man fell to the ground and vomited out the apples, the water, and the snake. When he saw what had come out of him, he realized what had happened, and begged the forgiveness of the horse-man.
This is our condition. In reading this, do not take history for allegory, nor allegory for history. Those who are endowed with knowledge have responsibility. Those who are not, have none be¬yond what they can conjecture.
The man who was saved said: ‘If you had told me, I would have accepted your treatment with a good grace.’
The horseman answered: ‘If I had told you, you would not have believed. Or you would have been paralysed by fright. Or run away. Or gone to sleep again, seeking forgetfulness. And there would not have been time.’
Spurring his horse, the mysterious rider rode away.
Tales of the Dervishes
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