“Reality is according to our conditioning, according to our egoistic development in life.” – Radhanath Swami
Just like I know one person and a relative; they love frogs. And my elder brother loves snakes. He has pet snakes in his house. Hare Krishna! He used to let them just crawl all over the house. Pythons, and other big snakes – the bigger the better! But then when he had his first little baby child, his wife said no more snakes. So, he kept in the closet. But then every now and then, it would escape from the closet. When they saw the snake looking at the little baby, she said, “It’s either that snake or me!” That was a very difficult choice for my brother. It was very difficult! “It’s either he or me!” So, ultimately it was a big surrender. He gave the snakes away. He loves snakes!
And I know another person at the Rainbow Gathering. His name is Fantusi. He loves snakes, especially poisonous ones. And we have seen, he just goes into the forest and searches. And when he finds a poisonous snake, he knows how to do it. With his fingers, he just puts the fingers behind his neck and picks him up by the throat, and then takes him around and puts him on the ground to show the people. And everybody goes – “My little snake! My cute little snake!” And he just picks it up and puts it back in a basket.
I remember I was cooking halwa for 3,000 people in a jungle. You know what the Rainbow is? You shouldn’t go! It’s about 10,000 people who live in a forest for several weeks. And there is no electricity and no running water, nothing. You have to just get water from creeks and springs and carry them in buckets. And you have to make fire with wood from dead trees lying on the ground, like that. So we were cooking in big pots and we were cooking for 3,000 people halwa and sabji and rice; and gulab jamuns, we made sometimes. In the middle of the forest, the bowls people have is amazing! Some people have skulls of animals, some people have coconut shells, some people have little pieces of plastic, so many things!
And we’re cooking the halwa and there are about 20 people in the kitchen preparing for the Prasad. And here comes Fantusi with a basket and I knew what was going to be in that basket. It was definitely going to be the latest poisonous snake that he just found in the forest and made into his pet. So, he said, “I want to show all of you this cute snake. But don’t get too close because he is poisonous.” And he opens it up and he puts his hand right in and picks the snake up. And he puts him on the ground and the snake is looking at us like that. And we’re all gathered together because nobody else except me knew what it would be. And it was really very special to watch people because most people don’t want to show people that they are afraid; but you know they are really afraid. So people are like…
And he is smiling and saying, “Look! Look! Isn’t he cute? Look at his eyes. Look at how his tongue is going in and out. It is so sweet, isn’t it?”
“Yes, very sweet. But maybe he looks tired. Put him back in the basket! Looks like he has had a hard day.”
People are running away, “I have to boil the water”, “I have to put wood in the fire”. He loved snakes! How many of you love snakes? You see a snake, people run away. I remember we were having a lecture in Ekachakra with hundreds of devotees. It was night and I was trying to speak. And all of a sudden everybody jumps up. “What’s happened?” “Stop! Stop! Snake!” Now that’s your perception. If it was Fantusi, he would be like, “Snake! Snake! I don’t even have to look, it has come right up to me! This cute little snake!” He would pick him up and give him a home in his basket. But one day, I called him up on the phone. And he was in the hospital because he got bit by a poisonous snake. I said, “Really?” So, I went to visit him and he was telling me what a benediction this was. He just considered it a loving exchange. He was in critical condition, in this ICUs, wires and tubes all over his body. He was in critical condition. When he came, he was unconscious. When he came to consciousness, he was saying, “It was such a loving exchange and I came so close to God through that experience.” The next time I saw, he was catching poisoned snakes. So I am developing this story perhaps too long, but it has a message. That we have perceptions of reality. Some love snakes. Some people hate snakes. I know one girl who loves rats. She thinks that they are the sweetest little things on earth. Those nice little ears, those shiny eyes. And other people hate rats. In fact, the worst thing you can say to somebody is, “you are a rat!” If someone were to say to her “You are a rat”, she would blush and say, “Thank you very much!”
Reality is according to our conditioning, according to our egoistic development in life.