One day a monk went to cleanse himself in the river. While doing so he noticed a scorpion struggling in the water. Knowing that scorpions can’t swim, the monk knew if he did not save the scorpion, it would drown. Thus, carefully picking up the scorpion, the monk rescued it from drowning. And as he was just about to set it down, the scorpion stung his finger. In pain, the monk drew back his hand and the scorpion went flying, back into the river. As soon as the monk regained his composure, he again lifted the scorpion out of the water. Again, before he could set the scorpion down, the creature stung him. This drama lasted for several minutes.
A hunter watched this routine, wherein the monk would carefully and gingerly lift the creature out of the water to yet again fling it back in the water again. While at the same time also convulsing from the pain unleashed by each fresh sting. Eventually, unable to hold onto his curiosity the hunter said to the monk, “Excuse me for my outspokenness, but it is clear the scorpion is simply going to sting you each time you try to carry it to safety. So, why don’t you just give up on it and let it drown”?
To this the monk replied: “My dear child, the scorpion is not stinging me out of malice or evil intent. Just as it is the water’s nature to make me wet, so it is the scorpion’s nature to sting. He doesn’t understand that I am getting him to safety. Quite simply, there is a level of conscious comprehension greater than what his brain can accomplish. But, just as it is the scorpion’s nature to sting, so it is my nature to save. Just as he is not leaving his nature, why should i leave my nature? My dharma is to help every creature – human or animal. Then why should I let a small scorpion rob me of the divine nature which I have gained through years of sadhana (penance)?”