Is It a Rope or a Snake?

posted in: Blog, channeling, mind body soul | 18

Illusions mistaken for truth are the pavement under our feet. They are what we call civilization. ~ Barbara Kingsolver, American writer


In his book, The Master Speaks, Joel Goldsmith, a leading 20th-century spiritual teacher, tells an interesting story from Hindu scripture.

A man walks into his bathroom and is horrified when he sees a snake. When his eyes had accustomed to the near-darkness, he takes a closer look and sees the “snake” is simply a coiled rope.

Joel then goes on to say:
“Loose anything, loose any condition, and let it go….And it will disappear…the snake that you are looking at is a rope. That evil condition which you are looking at, is not an evil condition at all, and your attempt to get rid of it is what is perpetuating it.”


Humans often cling to their “old” ways simply because they’ve become oblivious to the pain old ways of doing things  brings into their lives. They’ve numbed their feelings. So even pain can become familiar and comfortable—because that’s always been what they’re used to.

But is that any way to live your lives? There is a better way.

Just as our friend Joel Goldsmith says, there are no snakes out there. The snakes you see are simply illusions you’ve created. But when you take a closer look, you see the snake for what it is. It’s simply a harmless piece of rope.

How often do you you mistake other harmless pieces of rope for a snake?

Think about a person you dislike, or who you believe dislikes you. In your dislike, or perhaps something even stronger, are you really seeing them as they are? Most likely not.

You are children of your Creator—all equally loved and cherished by that divine entity who gave you life. He/She sees all of you only through the eyes of love. Evil is a fiction, a myth, an illusion in the eyes of your Creator.

The Creator sees you, the real you, for what you truly are—powerful beings of light and love who have chosen to come to this lifetime to realize nothing in all of creation is evil. You see it as evil only when you do not see it truly. You see snakes where there are only benign bits of rope.

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Copyright © 2018 by John Cali

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Here’s Alan Watts talking about how gorgeous reality is. The rope we see is not a snake. It’s not real. Why do we choose to see illusions when the real world is right there in front of us? All we need to do is open our eyes.


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18 Responses

  1. Pat

    So true, John, the understanding comes from the soul. Makes me think of one of my favorite quotes, in part, by Robert Frost: “We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows.”

    Also, wanted to share another poem for one of your fellow commentators above, Hans. It’s by Rumi and is called “The Guest House” (– a teaching story translated by Coleman Barks © by owner. provided at no charge for educational purposes).

    The Guest House ~~ by Rumi

    This being human is a guest house.
    Every morning a new arrival.

    A joy, a depression, a meanness,
    some momentary awareness comes
    As an unexpected visitor.

    Welcome and entertain them all!
    Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
    who violently sweep your house
    empty of its furniture,
    still treat each guest honorably.
    He may be clearing you out
    for some new delight.

    The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
    meet them at the door laughing,
    and invite them in.

    Be grateful for whoever comes,
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.

    • John Cali

      Thanks very much again, Pat. Robert Frost and Rumi are two of my most favorite writers.

  2. Pat

    I like hearing that, John, when you’ve experienced that deep place of Presence. I think I have, too, more than what I’ve realized. I certainly know of feeling what you talk about of being home free and safe. I’ve experienced many of those times but think I’m just now beginning to realize what it is.

    Some times are confusing. Like many years ago when, out of the blue before going to a workshop, I got a tingling feeling in my forearms and began to weep. I didn’t see or hear anything but never understood it. But then, again, that’s the point. Goes beyond what we think or can comprehend.

    • John Cali

      Thanks, Pat. I also have only recently realized what it’s all about. I think you’re absolutely right — this all goes beyond what our minds can grasp. But in our hearts, at the soul level, we understand it all. It’s that certain knowing that goes far beyond faith or belief.

  3. Pat

    Thank you, John. Wanted to ask if you’ve ever experienced what Alan Watts talks about in being in that truly deep place of Presence where whether you left this world or not it would be okay? I’m beginning to realize and understand that place.

    Also, thank you – thank you – thank you — for your kind referral to my site. I truly appreciate it, my friend.

    • John Cali

      You’re welcome, Pat. Yes, I have experienced that deep place. The first time was many years ago. It was truly an other-worldly experience. The world shifted before my eyes and became, literally it seemed, heaven on earth. Today, I still have that shift in awareness during my daily meditations – not every time, but now and then. It’s a feeling of home.

      To answer your question, yes — it felt okay regardless of whether I left this world then, or not. As A Course in Miracles says, we’ve never left our true home anyway. I love that idea!

      I was delighted to give your site that well-deserved referral. So you’re most welcome, Pat!

  4. Pat

    Hi John — I love how we’re given these little messages of guidance, like your post, when we’re in the middle of learning these things. Thank you for this — it’s beautiful and Alan Watts’ video reinforces exactly what I’ve been realizing.

    Also, regarding the rope, it reminded me of another story (not a snake) I came across that I wrote about some time ago. It ties in a little to this, more on how stubborn we can be in holding onto our beliefs instead of letting go and trusting. I hope you enjoy it. Here’s the link:

    Thank you for all you do, John.

    • John Cali

      Hi Pat,

      I know what you mean. The universe always gives us what we need, and when we need it.

      Thanks so much for the link to the rope story. I’m going to read it as soon as I send this.

      Thanks for all you do, Pat.

      P.S. For those of you reading this, I highly recommend you subscribe to Pat’s wonderfully uplifting blog, Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom. It’s the perfect antidote to all the negativity in the mainstream news these days.

  5. Ron B.

    First thought – law of attraction.
    Habitual following thought – law of attraction is not the only law.
    Then – we live in a probable universe which means that there are more possibilities than probabilities.
    The law of accident usually manifests when possibilities over-ride probabilities.
    People often become skeptical of the law of attraction materials when the law of accident shows up, like when a wonderful golfer is struck by lightning or when a Nasa rocket explodes after hitting a bird. The more complex the greater the odds.

  6. Tracy

    I just love having a-ha moments, and you’ve definitely given me one! Thank you for that. My perception has changed so drastically. The two giant snakes in my life are now just ropes… I feel relief, empowerment, and a few other good feelings. I’ll probably need to remind myself once in a while, but that’s okay. Actually, I think I’m going to print out a picture of a coiled rope, as a reminder! Ha ha Thank you again, John and Spirit, for this wonderful, life-changing insight. Much love!

    • John Cali

      You’re most welcome, Tracy! I also love those moments. I think we all need to at least occasionally remind ourselves of these things. I certainly do!

      Much love to you too, Tracy!

  7. Hans

    Yeah John, that’s it. I believe I’ll have some other opportunities to express only love, what I didn’t always do with this guy…
    Thank you for your comment John.

  8. John Cali

    Thank you for your comments.

    Just because you see the god in any person does not mean you must allow “let him do what he wants,” as you put it.

    I would suggest if you persist in seeing the god in all beings, unpleasant circumstances such as you describe would eventually disappear from your experience.

    Here is one of my favorite quotes from Jimmy Twyman’s book, The Art of Spiritual Peacemaking

    Give only love, no matter what the conditions seem to be, and that will be the only thing you perceive. The world will adjust according to your vision. ~ Art of Spiritual Peacemaking, Lesson 227 (emphasis added)

  9. Hans

    What about someone who doesn’t fits to my “standards” or “way of life” ?
    Example: my neighbor and owner of the house who comes in my appartement every time he wants it, without knocking on the door. I started closing the door with the key, after I repeatedly told him to knock, but when I forget it even just one time, one can be sure he comes in just at that time. This has become really nerving and led me to move to another city.
    Question: Have I to see god in him and let him do what he wants ?
    Beside that example, there are many of his behaviors who aren’t acceptable for me. So I had no other choice than to move.
    What is the reality there ?
    Mine ?
    He’s ?

  10. George Ball

    Yes, reality is gorgeous. Thank you John.

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