A blind man and his friend were crossing a desert. They were going on different journeys but they must have met on the way, and the other man must have asked the blind man to join him. They were together for some days and their friendship deepened over that time. One morning the blind man got up earlier than his friend and felt around for his stick. It was a desert night and it was very cold, it was winter time. He did not find the stick, but there was a snake which had stiffened because of the cold so the blind man picked it up and thanked God saying, “I had lost my stick but now you have given me a better, a smoother stick.” He thanked God and said, “You are very compassionate.”
Then he poked his friend with this stick to wake him, saying, “Get up, it’s morning.”
When the friend got up and saw the snake, he became afraid and said, “What is that you are holding in your hand? Drop it immediately! It is a snake, it is dangerous!”
The blind man replied, “Friend, in a fit of jealousy you are calling my beautiful stick a snake. You want me to throw it away so that you can take it – I may be blind, but I’m not stupid.”
His friend replied, “Are you mad? Have you gone mad? Throw it away immediately! It is a snake and it is dangerous!”
But the blind man said, “You have stayed with me for so many days and you still haven’t understood how smart I am. I had lost my stick and now the Almighty has given me a more beautiful stick, and you are just trying to fool me by calling it a snake.”
The blind man, in his anger, thought that his friend was jealous and envious, and so he started off on his own. After a little while the sun came up and the snake warmed up and came back to life. It was no longer cold and it bit the blind man.
The pain I’m talking about is the same pain that the blind man’s friend must have felt for his friend. Just like him, I also feel pain for the people all around. They are carrying a snake in their hands, not a stick, but if I tell them they wonder what jealousy is provoking me to say this. And I am not talking about someone else, I am talking about you.
Don’t think I’m talking about the person sitting next to you, I am talking absolutely to you. And I can see snakes in all your hands; yet anything that only looks like a stick is of no help, it is not a stick. But I don’t want you to leave the path. And I don’t want you to think that in a jealous state I am trying to snatch away your beautiful stick, so I don’t directly call it a snake. Slowly, slowly I am trying to make you understand that what you are holding on to is wrong.
And in fact I am not even saying that what you are holding on to is wrong. All I am saying is that there is something higher to hold on to. There is greater joy to be experienced, there are greater truths in life to be understood. What you are now holding on to can only lead to your destruction.
What we spend our lives doing eventually destroys us, destroys our entire lives. And when our whole lives have been destroyed, when our whole life is finished, there is only one pain and one sorrow that man suffers at the moment of death – and that is his regret at losing a very precious life.