During the last week I have been asked to explain a metaphor about a tiger. This has happened several times. I finally got the message that maybe I should write a post about it. To quote that great American hero, Homer Simpson: Doh!
I readily admit that I have not read a lot of books on spirituality. My preferred method has been to learn a few principles and then learn to utilize them in my daily life. Then repeat. Then repeat.
However, one of the best books that I have read was “The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power” by Vernon Howard. I read this book almost thirty years ago and several times since then. The vividness and practicality of the examples and metaphors that he used still resonate with me. The book has been hard to find, but most people eventually obtain a copy. You might try this link. I have no financial or any other relationship with the seller of the book.
The metaphor of the tiger comes from this book. Vernon Howard wrote about many more examples that can help illuminate our path. If there is a good response to this post, I will write about some of the other examples that have helped me on my path.
Disturbing the tiger
Remember our discussion a few weeks ago about observation? This metaphor assumes you are familiar with the concept of observation. Please read the articles about observation if you are not familiar with the concept.
The metaphor of the tiger starts by observing our thoughts. We see thoughts of anger, unhappiness, hate, fear, and many more. Those painful thoughts become the tiger.
We watch the tiger (painful thoughts) appear and walk through our mind. We are fearful of the tiger so we strike it. Or we grab it. Somehow we arouse the tiger and make it aware of us.
Once the tiger is aware of us we must wrestle with it. Remember – the tiger is our negative and unhappy thoughts. When we are wrestling with the tiger we are wrestling with our own thoughts, our self.
Who wins this battle with the tiger (our self)? No one. Who loses the battle with our self? We do. We always lose when we fight with our self. In fighting with the tiger we are fighting with our self – a battle we cannot win.
Learning to ignore the tiger
It takes awhile, but eventually we learn that if we ignore the tiger it will not bother us. Just because we see the tiger does not mean we have to do something about it. When we are still, observant, and fearless, all we need to do is watch the tiger walk through our mind.
When we learn to just let the tiger walk on through our mind we learn that it cannot have any effect on us unless we disturb it. Eventually we learn to have many tigers walking through our mind at the same time. We gradually learn to ignore the tigers and go about our business. The tigers will take care of themselves and we are happier when we do not disturb them.
In other words
Let’s break this metaphor down again. The tiger represents our negative thoughts, our false self. As we learn to observe, we learn to watch the tiger, our negative thoughts, our false self, from a separate place. That separate place is our true self. We learn that when we are enmeshed in the false self we lose objectivity and are in pain.
At first when we see our painful thoughts (the tiger, false self) we think we have to do something about them. We think we have to lash out at them. We think we have to change them. All this does is causes us to fight with our self (false self, tiger). When we fight our self we always lose.
It seems counter intuitive, but when we see our false self (painful thoughts, tiger) all we have to do is ignore it. We let it go. We allow the thoughts to go through our mind and we learn not to act on them. We learn that every time we act from false self (painful thoughts, tiger) we become more unhappy.
Gradually we realize that as long as we remain in our place of observation true self will know what to do. When we stop listening to false self the only voice remaining is that of true self.
We learn to trust that true self always has the best answer. We learn that true self is always happy. We learn that there is nothing more important in life than to be operating from our true self, no matter the apparent “cost” in physical terms.
We learn that there is no substitute for the peace and happiness that come from true self.
That is all for today. Please submit your comments or experiences of when you realized that you had disturbed the tiger. Our readers would like to hear your experiences.
Until tomorrow –
Es kava turen hai
We work towards an identical goal.
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