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Knowledge is the guiding light
DAVINDER P.S. SANDHU  19th Sep 2015

A devotee in the congregation asked my teacher, "Is it true that there are snakes with the mani in their heads, and that once in a while they take it out?" The mani is said to be a priceless jewel, ensconced in the head of some snakes.

"There are many aspects of nature that are a mystery," said the teacher, "and mysteries get solved and discovered in time. Sometimes it is more important to learn from the concept, rather than debate about whether it is true or not. Let us learn by applying the concept to our lives."

The mythical snake is said to use the jewel in three ways. The first type place the jewel under a moonlit and cool sky, and natural nectar then collects on it, which the snake partakes of. The light from mani is also a guide to others. The second type only play and dance in the light of the jewel. The third type of snake will use it as a bait to attract insects and rodents, and then eats them.

The snake can represent any of us, and the jewel inside is gyan, or knowledge. Some use their knowledge as a weapon, like the insect eating snake. They exhibit their skill to vanquish others, and cause much misery. Another type use their knowledge to cavort and play, essentially using it to earn a living and gather material wealth.

And finally, the third type who use their wisdom to distil spiritual nectar to improve self-understanding, and even as they do so, they are a beacon and example for others to live their lives in pursuit of self-understanding.

While the analogy of the snake with mani guides us in leading better lives, it also highlights the dangers of knowledge in unprincipled hands, and the need for guidance by a teacher. The Guru Granth Sahib says:

If a hundred moons and a thousand suns rise together,

Even with so much light – it is pitch dark without a Teacher.

 
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