Shedding dead skin

Just as a snake sheds its skin,so we should shed our past, over and over again.  The Buddha

For  many ancient people,   the snake was a symbol of life, shedding its skin again and again to be born anew.  This was frequently represented in the  image of the snake as a circle eating its own tail.  Jung  believed that this symbol had an archetypal meaning for humans, with snakes having the enviable quality of being able to let go of what was no longer needed for growth and start again, seeing the world from a fresh new perspective. For example, the Dunsun tribe in Northern Borneo have a myth about the origins of humankind, which really  reveals their way of grappling with some of the ongoing realities of human existence.  In their Creation Myth, humans are contrasted with snakes, who are seen to continually renew themselves by shedding their skin. In this way it was believed that they did not die.  Growth for us sometimes means letting go and moving on from the past, shedding dead skin in order to live fully.

The way to stay closest to the pulse of life, the way to stay in the presence of that divine reality which informs everything is to be willing to change. Still, change what? To change whatever has ceased to function within us. To shed whatever we are carrying that is no longer alive. To cast off our dead skin because dead skin can’t feel. Dead eyes can’t see. Dead ears can’t hear. And without feeling, there is no chance of wholeness, and wholeness remains our best chance to survive the pain of breaking.

Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

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