The frog that fell into a well

Have you heard of the phrase ‘frog in the well’? It denotes nature of mind which ignores the big picture and focuses and just a minute aspect at any given time. The Frog essentially starts to think that the well is the world and starts to work under this constraint. As such there is no problem with this concept other than the fact that the frog is putting unnecessary and untrue constraint on itself. It seriously limits the possibilities of what it could achieve.

With that context I would like to talk about a frog that knew the world; which wondered the the earth and on a fateful day fell into a deep well! It quickly figured out the constraints of living in the well and its depleting memory meant that it slowly forgot the world. While a faint memory of the world still existed; stiff constraints of surviving in the deep well meant that the frog is fully focused on day to day survival… slowly but surely the world was just the well for the frog.

I was watching a movie where the hero was sent to London for education, where he gets educated in finest school and just as he earns his degree, his parents call him back to the village. Once settled, he realizes how trivial the problems of the village are. He had seen the world and could clearly see how he could be part of a bigger play. But given the constraints, falls in the well, and continues living in the village. He is so engrossed with solving problems of the village that eventually, the village becomes his world. The trivial issues of the village consumes him completely making him the frog that falls in the well.

If a frog is destined to live in a well; what can it do?

In the east, many including the Buddhists believe that detachment is the way to go. They realized that one typically moves from one well to another – a losing game eventually! so appreciating this fact, living a detached life was seen as one way to create necessary condition to live liberated.

Once Brahma falls into the same “frog in the well” mentality and starts to feel that he is the most powerful in the universe. When told that Krishna, a small boy in Vrindavan, is the supreme lord; Brahma flies straight to test Krishna. There Krishna is seen playing with his friends in a beautiful garden and the agitated Brahma abducts all friends of Krishna and takes them all to Brahma-lok, the adobe of Brahma. Seeing this, Krishna takes forms of all his friends and goes back to each houses – not letter anyone in the village know what happened. Seeing the smart way Krishna manages the situation, Brahma realizes his mistake and comes to Krishna flying in his swan. While reaching Vrindavan, Brahma sees millions of other Brahmas flying into Vrindavan to see Krishna. It was now that Brahma realizes that there are many Brahmas in the world and that he is just one creator among many – a typical “Frog in the well” attitude had taken over Brahma blinding him completely. From the story, I find that the ancient Hindu texts favor a storytelling method of reminding people that they are in a well and there is world outside.

I believe introspection is the starting point – to understand how we sometimes behave like a frog in the well and to believe that there is a world outside to conquer.



One thought on “The frog that fell into a well

  1. कूपमंडूक = “Koopmanduk” is the Sanskrit adjective that denotes a mentality that lacks broader perspective. For the “manduk”, the “koop”, within which it is born, is the total sum of all its lifetime experiences.

    There is another Panchtantra story where a small frog somehow gets out of the well, and sees a cow outside. After getting back into the well, it describes the large size of the animal’s belly to its mother frog who has never left the well and has never experienced anything from outside. The mother frog, who is the largest among all living creatures within the well, refuses to accept that there is anything bigger than itself. To prove the point it inflates its belly and asks the small frog if it has become bigger than the cow. And it continues to do so until its belly bursts open.

    Mindfulness is how the Buddhists suggests that one should live. In doing so, one develops an extremely narrow focus on the matter at hand, discarding all other distractions. One may argue that this the kind of “tunnel vision” that is akin to a manduk in a koop. Except that it is not. It is not a constraint, but a niche, that is aimed at broadening your sense of perception and perspective to an infinite level — the big picture. At least that’s the theory.

    And thus, just a thought – I’m not sure how all these fits together in the story above.
    Cheers.. 🙂


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