The Tail of the Snake

Buddha and Maha Pajapati Gotami072715

by Ajahn Chah

We human beings don’t want suffering. We want nothing but pleasure. But actually, pleasure is nothing but subtle suffering. Pain is blatant suffering. To put it in simple terms, suffering and pleasure are like a snake. Its head is suffering; its tail is pleasure. Its head contains poison. Its mouth contains poison. If you get near its head, it’ll bite you. If you catch hold of its tail it seems safe, but if you hold onto its tail without letting go, it can turn around and bite you just the same. That’s because both the head of the snake and the tail of the snake are on the same snake.

Both happiness and sadness come from the same parents: craving and delusion. That’s why there are times when you’re happy but still restless and ill at ease — even when you’ve gotten things you like, such as material gain, status, and praise. When you get these things you’re happy, but your mind isn’t really at peace because there’s still the sneaking suspicion that you’ll lose them. You’re afraid they’ll disappear. This fear is the cause that keeps you from being at peace. Sometimes you actually do lose these things and then you really suffer. This means that even though these things are pleasant, suffering lies fermenting in the pleasure. We’re simply not aware of it. Just as when we catch hold of a snake: Even though we catch hold of its tail, if we keep holding on without letting go, it can turn around and bite us.

So the head of the snake and the tail of the snake, evil and goodness: These form a circle that keeps turning around. That’s why pleasure and pain, good and bad are not the path.

“In Simple Terms: 108 Dhamma Similes”, by Ajahn Chah
translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 2 November 2013
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Khmer Tipitaka 1 – 110

Khmer Tipitaka 1 – 110

The Tipitaka or Pali canon, is the collection of primary Pali language texts which form the doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism. The three divisions of the Tipitaka are: Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka. ព្រះត្រៃបិដក ប្រែថា កញ្រ្ចែង ឬ ល្អី​ ៣ សម្រាប់ដាក់ផ្ទុកពាក្យពេចន៍នៃព្រះសម្មាសម្ពុទ្ធ

Listen to Khmer literature and Dhamma talk by His Holiness Jotannano Chuon Nath, Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia Buddhism.

Jendhamuni

As a solid rock is not shaken by the wind, so the wise are not shaken by blame and praise. As a deep lake is clear and calm, so the wise become tranquil after they listened to the truth... Good people walk on regardless of what happens to them. Good people do not babble on about their desires. Whether touched by happiness or by sorrow, the wise never appear elated or depressed… ~The Dhammapada

Should anyone wish to ridicule me and make me an object of jest and scorn why should I possibly care if I have dedicated myself to others?

Let them do as they wish with me so long as it does not harm them. May no one who encounters me ever have an insignificant contact.

Regardless whether those whom I meet respond towards me with anger or faith, may the mere fact of our meeting contribute to the fulfilment of their wishes.

May the slander, harm and all forms of abuse that anyone should direct towards me act as a cause of their enlightenment.

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