You’re not a sheep – Wake up!

Andrew Harvey: “A culture like ours which stresses desire and attachment so intensely makes cowards of us. … There’s a beautiful Sufi story I’ve always loved. A group of tigers in a forest leaves a tiger cub behind by mistake. The cub is brought up by sheep. The sheep teach it how to be a sheep. It walks like a sheep and baas like a sheep and eats grass. Many years later, a tiger happens to be passing and sees this ludicrous sight of a half-grown tiger behaving like a sheep. It is amused and saddened and drags the tiger to a pool in the forest. There, it shows the young tiger the reflection, and the tiger begins to wake up to what it really is. The older tiger teaches the younger tiger how to roar. At first, all it can do is make bleating sounds, but slowly the greater tiger-roar begins in its throat. And then after weeks of practice, it comes up to its master and gives the great roar of freedom.”

Most of us are tigers pretending to be sheep – wild, totally free creatures pretending to be slaves of culture. But all of us can learn that roar of fearlessness. Tibetans call this the roar of the lion, which comes from understanding emptiness, knowing the void, seeing the interrelation of all things and realising the inherent non-existence of things. When you know emptiness, nothing can make you afraid.

“…It’s helpful to make the distinction pointed to by all the mystical philosophies between what we might call ‘personhood’ and the ego. Because we identify with the ego, the false self, we think that the false self is us. We’re condemned to think that this selfish, haunted, hysterical being is all we are. What a condemnation, what a sadness, to confuse our true potential with this doomed being!

“…As you wake up and the other, deeper mind emerges, you start to realise that the identification with this coagulation of habits which is the false self is, in fact, not true. There is a larger, more confident, more loving person there who uses your body and mind, who sees through your eyes, but who is as far from the false self as the false self is from a snail. When that person is discovered inside by the spiritual searcher, the identification with the ego is ended, with great relief. You step out of the prison into the sunlight.”

“…It is very important to realise that there is a person inside who is not dying, who is not anxious, who doesn’t need anything, who is calm, tender, confident and far more deeply himself or herself than this bundle of contradictions and repetitions we confuse with our truth. … What we are here to do is to meet and become the person we are.”

– quote from Dialogues with a Modern Mystic by Andrew Harvey


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