Gina Murdock: Discerning the rope from the snake |

Gina Murdock: Discerning the rope from the snake

Gina Murdock
Lead with Love
Gina Murdock

There is a parable in yoga philosophy that illustrates one of the greatest lessons we all face on a daily basis, how to discern truth from illusion. In this parable a man walks along a path at night and sees what he perceives as a poisonous snake and runs away in fear. As he walks along the same path in the morning he sees a coiled rope on the ground. He realizes that in the darkness, he mistook the coiled rope as a snake and it dawns on him, in the dark it is hard to see reality as it truly is. In the light of day, we can see more clearly.

We live in a society that seems to be steeped in fear and illusion. We are literally walking around in the dark. The yoga philosophy says that those of us who are completely in the dark actually never see the rope or the snake so live in ignorance and maybe that is where ignorance is bliss comes from? It is those of us in the twilight, aware but not fully aware, that see the “snakes” and can be easily distorted into feeling and acting from fear. In the twilight or early dawn, the light is still obscured and things are not fully clear, but we can see. It is up to us to shine the light of awareness on our lives to see more clearly.

I bring this up because I’ve felt myself in and out of a state of fear as I’ve gotten sucked into politics, pandemics, and the plight of people and animals on our planet. I feel saddened by the state of the world and yet also super inspired by the possibilities. The more that I focus on the objects or circumstances that create the fear the bigger it gets in my mind and heart, so much so that it affects my physical health and personal relationships. I am making a deliberate effort to turn on the light of awareness inside of myself to see things differently. This, to me, is the spiritual path and it is the most important aspect of my life.

I am a seeker of the light and a bearer of the light when I can sift through the “Maya” (illusion and fear) and determine what is real and what’s not. There is another saying in yoga and other spiritual philosophies (and a great song by M.C. Yogi) that says, “Only Love is Real.” When I think about that, I wonder, “Is that true?” My heart says “YES!” To me, if that is true then that is my guiding light and I know that’s my compass and how I need to orient myself when I think, speak and act. It must be in a way that is in accordance with the belief “Only Love Is Real.”

If I see conflict and it seems incurable that is the rope in the dark looking like a poisonous snake. How can I bring the light of awareness to that situation and see things differently? It may not be obvious at first and this is why we have so many intractable problems, but if we can live in a way that we continue to believe and act from the premise that only love is real I believe we will start to see things differently and from there act differently. This is a life’s long journey for most of us to turn on the light, to see the light and to be the light. It is the journey that reminds us that there are infinite possibilities and if we let love lead we will be guided to light.

Gina Murdock is the founder Lead with Love, an Aspen-based nonprofit dedicated to shifting culture from fear to love. Gina writes a monthly column for The Aspen Times inspired by Lead with Love’s newest offering “Love in Action,” a Zoom work session the first Wednesday of each month intended to inspire positive action from the heart to address some of the most pressing needs of our time. For more information, go to


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