Once upon a time, a frog was living in a well some distance away from the ocean. The frog was born in the well, and since his birth he had never gone outside the well. Still, the frog considered himself all-knowing.
The frog used to hop around in the water at the bottom of the well and think in his mind that he himself was the outright possessor of the well—and not only the well but the owner and ruler of the entire world!
One day, a frog from the sea happened to fall inside the well. The well frog heard something enter the well and thought, “Today some large prey has arrived.”
He turned and was about to leap on top of it when he saw that it was another frog just like himself. The frog was slightly different in appearance, but almost identical to him. The well frog asked the sea frog, “Where have you come from?”
The sea frog replied, “From the sea.”
The well frog asked, “How much smaller is the sea than my well?”
The sea frog replied, “This well cannot even be compared to the sea.”
The frog was surprised and said, “Is it this big?” as he made a large leap.
The sea frog laughed and replied, “How far can you jump in here? The sea is much bigger than your entire well.”
The well frog quickly jumped from one side of the well all the way to the other and said, “There can be nothing bigger than this!”
The sea frog replied, “Please come outside with me and see how big the sea is.”
The well frog said, “You are so fanatical. I don’t know whether your sea is really bigger than my well or not, but I can accept it as equal to my well. I am not so narrow-minded as you that I have to say that whatever is my own is bigger than everything else. My well is just as good as your sea because water is found in both places. You just want to make a show of your own greatness, so you fanatically declare your sea to be the biggest.”
The well frog represents the so-called enlightened thinkers who say that everything is ultimately one. Like the well frog, they find the lowest common denominators between religious and spiritual conceptions, proclaim these lowest common denominators to be the highest truths, and conclude that all religious and spiritual conceptions are equal.
The sea frog represents the humble and sincere servants of Divinity who seek to appreciate everything for what it is within the absolute whole. They recognise and respect the value of everything they encounter and state frankly what they have experienced to be supreme for the benefit of whomever they meet.
The most common type of well frog is the impersonalist, one who says that the ultimate reality is Brahman, understood as an impersonal and undifferentiated spiritual energy from which everything originates, within which everything exists, and into which everything should finally dissolve. The impersonalist denies the existence of the spiritual world, spiritual personality, and the gradation in the attainments of souls following different spiritual paths. They claim all spiritual paths lead to the same destination and in effect denounce all the diversity that exists within spiritual practices to be erroneous.
The ultimate sea frog is the devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna who has personal experience of the most simple and sublime path of spiritual growth,the highest realm within the spiritual world, and the original, all-loving, personal aspect of Divinity from which the Brahman, the material world, and all else originate.
As the well frog was convinced nothing could exist outside his well, so the impersonalists are convinced nothing can exist outside of their supposedly all-harmonising conception of Brahman. As the well frog dismissed the sea frog as fanatical when in fact it was he that was fanatical, so the impersonalists dismiss the devotees of the Supreme Person as fanatics when in fact they are the ones in denial of spiritual truth and the validity of others’ experience (they are unaware or refuse to accept that the Brahman is the radiance of the Supreme Person’s eternal spiritual form). When they are graced by a devotee of the Supreme, however, they can gradually learn to let go of their imagined enlightenment and open their hearts to the divine love that awaits them outside the well of their assumptions.