Dharma Does What?
One never knows what three month old treasures awaits one in one’s unchecked Yahoo inbox. After I opened my long neglected and dusty inbox (btw three months isn’t that long when you’ve got like 15 email addresses). I didn’t know whether to shake my head or clap my hands when a friend forwarded me this story, last night. In case you missed it, the Washington post reports a man, living in a Buddhist Temple outside the city’s northwestern suburb of Poolesville. Sam Pettengill, after being bitten by a copperhead snake, displayed both poise and presence through prayer (while poisoned). Before rushing to the emergency room to seek medical attention for what could have been a fatal bite, Pettengill circumabulated the stupa at the nearby temple with the snake, offering it prayers for a higher rebirth, before releasing it. Wowsers. Can you imagine the presence of mind possessed to take such action? I am still trying. Talk about living the dharma! Sam Pettengill, you are most deservedly my pick for Dharma Rave of the Day.
PS — Makes you think twice about swatting a fly, doesn’t it?
PPS — Think about the last snake to cross your path: figuratively speaking. Did you have the presence of mind to pray for that person or did you instead use your energy in trying to destroy him?
In Case of Snake vs. Man, One Shows a Little Respect
by Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
If you were a baby copperhead snake in Montgomery County and you wanted to bite someone, you could do a whole lot worse than pick Sam Pettengill.
For starters, there was the place the snake slithered into: Pettengill’s studio apartment at Kunzang Palyul Choling, a Buddhist temple near Poolesville, next to woods by the Potomac River. Animals are loved there.
Then there is Pettengill himself, who was still laid up yesterday at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. The 36-year-old has been known to buy crickets and worms from bait shops, bring them back to the woods and set them free.
“It’s about accumulating merit,” he said of such acts.
Pettengill was recovering nicely yesterday — after four rounds of antivenin — and was expected to return to the temple shortly.
It was about 11 p.m. Sunday when he walked into his apartment and found the snake. It was so small — about the size and thickness of a pencil, he said — that he figured it was harmless and picked it up mid-body with his right hand.
The snake suddenly coiled back, striking Pettengill’s right index finger. Twice. Pettengill grabbed the snake behind its head with his left hand and placed it in a 1 1/2 -foot-tall glass flower vase.
He received help from two friends in the prayer room, John Pelletier and Elizabeth Cohn. Pelletier searched “poisonous snakes Maryland” on his iPhone, and the three concluded that it was a Timber rattlesnake.
Before heading to the hospital, Pettengill carried the vase onto the temple grounds to the Enlightenment Stupa, a 36-foot-tall sacred structure. He walked clockwise around the stupa with the snake for about three minutes, offering “prayers for a higher rebirth,” Pettengill recalled.
Then, in a grassy area near a marsh, he turned over the vase and let the snake slither away.
Yesterday, after describing the snake to an expert from the state Department of Natural Resources, Pettengill learned that it was almost certainly a copperhead.
Copperheads are the only known poisonous snakes in Montgomery, officials said. Timber rattlesnakes, also poisonous, have been found in Frederick County and points west.
At the emergency room at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, as he examined Pettengill’s swelling hand and forearm, David Srour knew right away that he was dealing with a poisonous snake bite. He has seen about a dozen in his career.
In most cases, Srour said, snake bite victims arrive with the snake that bit them, the snake being dead. Not so with Pettengill.
“He was very calm. It was unusual, I thought,” Srour said. “He talked about the snake in an almost reverential tone.”
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