Why Did the Snake Cross the Road?

Why Did the Snake Cross the Road?

The following is a summary of Bro. Tan’s teaching on 9 June, the first Sunday of the Annual Gimhana Retreat 2013.

Everyone was all-ears as Bro. Tan shared the interesting and insightful story about the snake.

As it was shedding its skin, this 12-feet long King Cobra snake was very distressed and undergoing a big change.  Half-blind, mad with discomfort, and in the heat of the high noon sun, it crossed the hot tar road not once or twice, but three times.  This was the sight that Bro. Tan came across one day on the road.

So too do humans react in a similar way when faced with change, which creates a sense of uncertainty and a feeling of insecurity.  This was the topic that was elaborated during the first Gimhana Sunday talk by Bro. Tan on Sunday, 9 June.  The Annual Gimhana Retreat at Nalanda will span seven weeks from 8 June – 22 July this year.  Focusing on one’s spiritual growth, and personal transformation effected through the Dhamma, the theme of the retreat is “The Snake”.  In the scriptures, there are many examples of snake similes or metaphors that the Buddha used to teach the Dhamma.  Over the course of the next 7 weeks, this theme will be explored further to induce a deeper learning and understanding of the Dhamma.

100 participants of the Gimhana Retreat chanting together in harmony.

When faced with challenges, and immersed in suffering, one often feels it is a low point in life.  On the contrary, Bro. Tan explained that it can be viewed as a “peak” in life as one has a better vantage point from which to observe and scrutinise oneself.  Rather than always needing to “do” something, as intelligent human beings, we ought to make the most of the opportunity to learn, and grow.  Not simply growing old, but meaningfully growing in wisdom, grace and happiness.

A communal lunch during which everyone got to enjoy eating together and serving each other happily.

Bro. Tan shared that there are four components of happiness:

  • safety and security
  • satiation and satisfaction
  • quietude and serenity
  • proper perspective and gratitude

Essentially, we need to at least feel comfortable and reside in a secure environment in order to create the right conditions for happiness to arise within.  Then, fulfilling our basic needs and feeling satisfied, we embrace having the quiet space and time to savour serenity and tranquility.  Recollecting our blessings and placing our attention wisely, we also foster a sense of gratitude for all our good fortunes.  In this way, happiness gradually grows in our lives.


During the Gimhana period till 22 July, come and join us for weekly Sunday Dhamma sessions from 9am – 12pm, group meditation and Dhamma teachings on Wednesdays 8pm – 10pm.  See you on 12 June at Nalanda Centre!