The Monster Story: An Indian Perspective On Trust

There is a saying that goes, “Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.” Is there wisdom in this? Perhaps! While a person might speak with complete honesty, it doesn’t mean that he speaks the truth. It is pretty widely accepted that the eye can be fooled into accepting something as true when it isn’t. So if it is hard to trust the senses that we so commonly rely on, how difficult is it to trust the senses that perceive the “unseen” – the things that are of the spiritual realm, those abstract ideas and concepts?

Trust is a difficult thing for many people and there are many emotions that work against it such as fear, anger, doubt, jealousy and hatred. Not only are these capable of eroding trust, they are capable of swallowing up and devouring people.

For the Spirit Dancer, trust is a necessity. He dances with others around a fire, blindfolded. He trusts in his knowledge of the dance. He trusts in the other dancers. They never fall into the fire or collide with each other, but it is those emotions that work against trust and that can devour us that move us off track and remind of a story…

* The Monster Story *

In a village of the people, a time had come upon the land that was very difficult. People were going to the river for water never to return. It was said they were being swallowed by monsters who lived at the river.

It was in this time that a young man went to his grandparents’ lodge and found his grandmother crying. The young man asked, “Why are you crying, grandmother?”

Drying her eyes, she looked up at her grandson and replied, “The people need water because they are dying without it, but no one can go to the river because of the monsters.”

Indeed the young man knew that many of his relatives had gone to the river never to return. He said to his grandmother, “But if no one goes to the river, we will not have water and we will all surely die.”

“Yes,” the grandmother said, ‘that is our problem.”

The young man left wondering what to do. He knew that people were going to the river and never returning, yet he knew death would certainly take them if they did nothing. He decided it was better to die trying than to do nothing.

The next day he went back to his grandparents’ lodge and told them of his decision to go to the the river. He said, “The people are dying and they must have water. I must at least try to go to the river.”

His grandmother took a pouch from her side and handed it to her grandson saying, “In this pouch is a flint and steel, and at least you will have fire.”

His grandfather took the knife from his belt and handed it to his grandson,. He said, “Maybe this will serve you in your journey.”

The young man secured the gifts in his own belt. Thanking his grandparents, he took his buckets and made his way to the river. When he arrived, fear set in his throat like a lump but he saw no sign of the any monsters. He looked up one side and then the next but there were no monsters to be seen.

Quickly he grabbed his buckets and went to the river bank.He bent down to dip the buckets in the water. Feeling like he was being watched, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He was very afraid. He just wanted to draw the water and get out of there, but as he went to put the bucket in the water he saw in the reflection of the river a monster with his huge open mouth. And then it was upon him.

He was swallowed up and in the dark belly of a monster. In his fear and anguish, he began to cry. He knew his grandparents would be hurt and worse, he knew others would die because they had no water. As he cried he heard other voices and a stirring in the dark. He yelled out, “Aho, who is there?” Voices started calling back to him, but he couldn’t see. Then he remembered the pouch on his belt and the flint and steel. He began to gather dry things from around him and he struck the flint and steel. Soon he had a fire going and in the light he could see the faces of his relatives and all of the people who had been swallowed by the monster. They all greeted the young man and told him how they had come to be swallowed by the monster.

The young man asked them, “How do we get out of here?” They said, “We can’t get out – it is useless to try.”

At first, the young man was afraid but then he remembered the knife that his grandfather had given him. He said, “Wait, I know what to do.” Then he ran to the side of the monster and thrust the knife in. The monster heaved and the young man pulled hard on the knife, cutting a deep gash in the side of the monster that allowed all of the people to escape. They filled all of their buckets up with water and returned to their village.

**** It is for the person who is trying to find his way in this life, and for all of the things that would “swallow” him up along the way that inspired the “Spirit Dancer”.

At first glance this picture might seem dark because of the emphasis on the monsters, but know that these unseen spirits are capable of devouring the unwary. This picture is really about the “light”. It is the light that exposes and shows us the truth. It is the light that chases the darkness and it is in this light that the Spirit Dancer so confidently makes his way, unafraid of the “dark” and the unseen things.

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