A net had been cast into a lake to catch fish. Some fish were so clever that they were not caught in the net. But most of the fish were entangled in the net. Some of them tried to free themselves from it. But not all the fish that struggled succeeded. A very few did jump out of the net, making a big splash in the water. Then the fishermen shouted, "Look! There goes a big one!"
But most of the fish caught in the net could not escape, nor did they make any effort to get out. On the contrary, they burrowed into the mud with the net in their mouths and lay there quietly, thinking, "We need not fear any more; we are quite safe here."
But the poor things did not know that the fishermen would drag them out with the net.
(Adapted from Ramakrishna 1986, No. 13) Apostles were fishers of men is a gospel teaching.
Once a venomous, vicious serpent lived in a hole in a hill outside a village. A hermit of great miraculous power also lived in this village. Many of the villagers' children, who ventured to play around the hill, were attacked by the serpent and stung to death. The villagers tried their utmost to kill the serpent, but failed. Therefore they went in a body to the local hermit and asked him to help them.
Yielding to the entreaties of the villagers, the hermit went near the hole where the serpent lived and summoned him to come out. When he did, he was scolded for stinging children to death and instructed never to bite again, but to love his enemies. The snake did not say "No can do" to anything of this; it seemed that the hermit had hypnotised or cast some spell on him in an odd sort of way.
Now the hermit left the village for a year on a pilgrimage. As he was returning to the village by way of the hill, he thought: "Let me see how the friendly serpent is enjoying life." As he came up to the hole in the hill, he found the serpent lying half-dead in front of the hole with stitches in his back.
The hermit said: "Hello, what's all this?"
The serpent whispered: "Oh, this is the result of practicing your teaching. After you had changed me, the village boys knew I would not attack any of them. Then they threw small stones at me, and after a while big stones at me. They wanted to kill me. I got badly hurt. Now I am lying here with several stitches in my back while trying to love these enemies.
"I told you not to sting, but why didn't you hiss and scare a bit?" countered the hermit.
(Retold from Müller 1990, 163)
Once a hermit lived in a forest. He had many disciples. One day he taught them to see God in all beings and to bow low before them all. One of the disciples went to the forest to gather wood for a fire. Suddenly he heard an outcry, "Get out of the way! A mad elephant is coming!"
All but the disciple of the holy man took to their heels. He reasoned that the elephant was God in another form. So why run away? He stood still, bowed before the animal, and began to sing its praises while the elephant driver (mahut: elephant keeper, trainer, driver, etc.) was shouting: "Run away! Run away!"
But the disciple didn't run.
The animal seized him with its trunk, cast him to one side, and went on its way. Hurt and bruised, the disciple lay unconscious on the ground. Hearing what had happened, his teacher and his brother disciples came to him and carried him to the hermitage.
With the help of some medicine he soon regained consciousness. Someone asked him, "You knew the elephant was coming - why didn't you leave the place?"
"But, "he said, "our teacher has told us that God Himself has taken all these forms, of animals as well as men. Therefore, thinking it was God that was coming, I didn't run away."
At this the teacher said: "Yes, my child, the elephant God was coming; but the mahut God forbade you to stay there. Why didn't you trust the mahut's words? You should have heeded the words of the mahut God."
(Ramakrishna 1986, No. 195)