Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Frog and the Scorpion

There are many variations on this story. Here is one I like.

Once upon a time, there was a scorpion that wanted to cross a river. Since scorpions do not swim, he needed help. There was a frog nearby so the scorpion asked the frog to carry him across the river on its back. The frog refused and said, “If I carry you on my back, you will sting me and I will die. That is what scorpions do.”

The scorpion replied, “If I were to sting you, I would drown in the river. That would be suicide.”

The frog considered this. Being a trusting soul, the frog accepted and carried the scorpion on its back out into the river. Halfway across the river, the scorpion stung the frog. As the frog was dying, it asked the scorpion, “Why did you do this? Now we both will die.”

As the scorpion was sinking into the water along with the dying frog, it replied, “That is what scorpions do. It is my nature.”

Of course, the story isn’t really about frogs and scorpions. It is about human nature.

Do you know someone that drives you crazy? My boss is that one for me. He refuses to allow anyone to make any meaningful decisions without his prior approval. He micromanages the tiniest details of every project, but I can’t get him to take care of the important things that I need him to do.

There is a good description of a micromanager at

When someone believes he is the only one competent to make decisions, he creates suffering (stress) for others. His leadership is not trustworthy. His mind is telling him that what he does is coming from his greater knowledge. It is actually a delusion of the ego. However, my boss is not going to change. He is acting out of his true nature. He believes that his actions are correct. His lack of leadership and management skill is affecting everyone around him. It’s not because he is acting wrongly. He simply does not trust anyone else to do a job as well as he thinks he can do that job.

I have worked for many years to reduce the stress in my life. He has been working just as hard at putting the stress back into my life. Being angry with him for acting according to his nature gets me nowhere. I cannot easily walk away from this job. I need the income.

We have beliefs about who we are. We act in accordance to our beliefs, even if it hurts us. As humans, we have the ability to choose how we act. Bruce Lee once said, “As you think, so shall you become.” It’s up to me to think that I can find positive ways to use this situation. I need to find a way to choose actions that allow me to take care of my family.

As Shantideva says in Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life,

There is no evil like hatred,
And no fortitude like patience.
Thus I should strive in various ways
To meditate on patience.

© 2010 Eric Borreson

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