Once upon a time, a pregnant lioness attacked a herd of goats while hunting for food. As she jumped at one of the goats the strain became too much for her and she died giving birth to a cub. The new born cub could barely open his eyes. He made some sounds and moved around on the ground helpless. The goats saw the orphaned cub and felt compassionate towards him.
You may wonder how goats can feel compassion towards a lion cub. Understand, when the enemy does not disturb or hurt you and you don’t feel threatened in any way by his presence, you will feel compassionate towards him even if he is your enemy by nature. In the same way, since the goats did not feel threatened by the lion cub they started showing love towards him.
The goats sensed the cub was not going to attack them and because of this they were able to express compassion towards him. They looked after him, bringing him up in the manner they knew best. They showed him how to eat grass, drink goat milk, live like them and even how to bleat like them!
The lion cub also picked up the body language of the goats. Right from his birth no one had ever told him he was a lion, so he never knew what it was to be a lion. So the cub grew up continuing to live like the goats. The goats also were quite comfortable with the cub being one amongst them. As the lion cub grew, he began to express his strength in a manner that was natural to him. When the other younger goats fought with him, he used to hit them with a strong blow. The young goats would complain to the mother goat, ‘He is hitting us!’ The mother goat would try her best to patch things up between the cub and the goats by consoling the young goats and advising them to forget about the fight.
One day a lion attacked the herd of goats. The frightened goats scattered in different directions. The lion then saw a lion cub running away with the goats bleating like them. The lion could not believe his eyes! He could not understand why the cub was running away upon seeing him and why he was bleating like the goats.
The next day the lion returned not to hunt but to look out for the young cub. When he saw the cub he slowly went up behind him and caught hold of him. The moment the lion caught hold of the cub, the cub started shouting, ‘Let me go! Let me go! Baa, baa…’
The lion said, ‘Fool! Don’t be afraid. I am not going to kill you. Don’t you know who you are?’ The cub cried, ‘I am a goat. Let me go! Let me go!’ The lion said, ‘Fool! You are not a goat. Don’t be afraid of me!’ But the young cub was terrified and not ready to listen to anything. Somehow he managed to break free and he ran away.
The next day the lion came back to where the goats were. He managed to catch the lion cub again. This time he held him firmly. The cub was struggling under the grip, but while one part of his mind told him strongly to escape, another part of him felt good at being touched by the lion. The assuring, comfortable feeling of the lion’s touch awakened something deep within the cub. Seeing the struggle of the cub, the lion let him go saying, ‘I will come again tomorrow. But at that time I will not be chasing you.’ The lion went back into the forest.
The lion cub stayed awake the whole night unable to sleep. His mind was filled with so many thoughts… ‘I cannot accept what the lion said to me,’ ‘But I think there may be some truth in what he said,’ ‘No! No! No! I don’t think whatever he said is correct. I know I am a goat. I have known it from birth. What he says does not make any sense to me. He is just lying to get something from me.’
Understand, the lion has penetrated the cub in a way beyond the cub’s logic. Let me be very clear, if the presence of the master affects you beyond your logic, the master in you has already been awakened! You cannot feel connected to the lion unless the lion in you awakens. If you feel some ecstasy, some comfort, through the touch of the master, the lion, and if you find yourself trying to recreate again and again the same feelings that came up in your memory when you were with the lion, even if it is through visualization, be very clear, the lion has touched you deeply! A part of you has already started feeling soothed. A part of you has already started feeling there is something in what the master says.
The next day when the lion arrived, the cub was standing there waiting for him. The cub was standing patiently at the edge of the forest looking out for the lion. But when the lion appeared, the cub started moving away from him toward the herd of goats. But he did not turn his face away from the lion as he did not want to lose sight of the lion!
He just took a few steps back cautiously telling the lion, ‘You stay where you are and I will stand where I am now. We can still talk. It is true that I am not able to forget you. But let us keep this distance between us.’ The lion replied, ‘That is alright with me. You stay where you are. Now let us talk.’ The lion continued, ‘Understand, you are a lion! You are ignoring your true nature by trying to be something else! Look carefully and you will see the difference between you and those goats.’ The cub cried, ‘No! No! How can that be? I eat the same grass as them. I live exactly as the other goats do.’
The lion said, ‘Fool! Understand this very basic thing. See for yourself. No other goat feels attached to me. No other goat is waiting for me. They are all terrified of me. Only you are waiting for me. Understand from this alone that there is something happening within you. What is the need for you to wait for me here? Come with me to the river nearby and look at your reflection in the water. You will be able to see your face and mine.’
The cub felt scared to go with the lion and told him, ‘No. Let us just stand here and talk. You stand where you are, I will stand where I am. You say whatever you want to say. I will stay right here and listen.’
Then the lion said, ‘Alright, let me tell you this. If you allow me, I can show you your true self in the river and prove to you that you are like me. But I will not force you. I will return after one week. If you are ready, come back to
this place and wait for me. I will then take you with me to the river. If not, just forget me. Don’t even try to remember me!’ The lion then left.
After a week as promised, the lion arrived. The cub’s mind was still confused, ‘Should I go or not go to meet the lion?’ Deep within, the cub really wanted to meet the lion but at the same time he was very afraid of the lion.
Finally, the cub reached the place where he had met the lion the last time and found the lion there. The lion looked up at him and stood up. He led the way and slowly they started walking towards the river. As they were walking, the lion moved a little closer to the cub. The cub got scared and started shouting, ‘No! No! You stay where you are. You just show me the path to the river. Please do not walk so close to me. I can walk to the river on my own!’
The lion moved away a little and started telling the cub stories about when he was a cub himself and how he grew up to become a fully grown lion. Listening to these stories, the cub got so engrossed he forgot to keep the distance between the two of them. As they walked, the lion started getting closer to the cub. The cub was completely involved in the stories of the lion and was asking him, ‘Is that so?’ ‘Is that how it happened?’ ‘Did you also have all these problems?’
Without the cub realizing it, the lion had slowly come so near that he was now touching the cub as they continued their walk! Suddenly the young cub noticed this but he found that it did not bother him at all. He felt the gentle touch of the lion on him so relaxing! He did not protest.
The lion continued talking and the cub was saying, ‘Oh! That was nice… that was interesting…’ The lion was now almost holding the cub, but the cub was fully engrossed in the ‘small stories’ about the lion’s early days.
As soon as they reached the river the lion caught the cub and took him to the water. The cub knew now there was no escaping. But he was surprised that he no longer had any desire to escape!
Understand, the cub knew that not only could he not escape, but he also did not want to escape! But then, a little ego hiding in a corner of his mind troubled him and he said, ‘No! No! Let me go! What are you doing to me? Why are you holding on to me?’ The cub still had some fear in him. So he asked, ‘What are you doing to me? Tell me please, what are you doing to me?’
The lion replied, ‘I am not doing anything to you. Just look into the water.’ The cub looked into the water and said, ‘Okay, I am looking into the water.’ The lion then asked, ‘What can you see in the water? Can you see two forms?’ The cub replied, ‘Yes.’ The lion said, ‘Well, one lion is me and the other lion is you.’
The cub repeated, ‘Two reflections: one mine and the other yours.’ Then suddenly he realized what he was saying. He could not believe it and started shouting, ‘May be not! No! No! No! Both the reflections in the water must be of you!’
The lion shouted, ‘Fool! Look! I am raising my hand. See which reflection is raising a hand.’ The cub pointed to the reflection in the water and said, ‘Only that reflection is raising its hand.’ The lion then said, ‘Okay, now you raise your hand.’ The cub raised his own hand, looked at the reflections in the river and cried out, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! I see! I see!’ Then in a small, confused voice he asked, ‘But… How can I be a lion? Am I not a goat?’
The lion simply looked at him and said, ‘I am not here to play with you.’ That is when a feeling of ecstasy began to rise up in the cub. He could sense something incredible was about to happen. But then again his mind stepped in and his mood went into a low and he started doubting in his mind, ‘I think I have been hypnotized. This is not my true nature! Something has happened to me. This is not me. I have never felt so blissful, so joyful! This is not me! He is doing something to me. He has already done something to me!’
The cub still resisted. He struggled to escape, but it was only a half-hearted attempt, an act actually, because he actually had no real desire to escape.
The cub started protesting, ‘No! No! No! Let me go! Let me go! I know that you are a lion. As an offering for you, I will bring the grass which I eat everyday. I will bring the milk which I drink every day. I will devote my time to serve you.’
Finally the lion thought, ‘I should leave him now. He can only understand this much for now.’ So, he told him, ‘Alright, be very clear, we shall meet again tomorrow. I will not come to the boundary of the forest to bring you here. I will be in my own home. If you want to see me, find out where I live and come on your own to meet me there. I have no time to waste by coming all the way to your place to bring you here! If you don’t want to come to me through your own effort, let it be!’ The lion told him this and left.
This time the cub did not run away as he usually would. He walked back very slowly. He did not want to go, but on the other side his mind was pushing him to go back to the goats. Three legs of the lion cub were not moving. Only one leg was able to move. Big drops of tears began to fall from his little eyes at the thought of this farewell.
The next day the lion was seated in a majestic pose in his home. Slowly, very slowly, the cub approached him with freshly-cut green grass thinking, ‘This is the best grass available anywhere’ and set it down in front of the lion saying, ‘Please accept this offering I bring you.’
The lion watched and thought to himself, ‘Alright, if I take this grass this fellow will feel connected to me. He might even allow this relationship to become more intense. Through this he might feel more connected to me.’ Thinking this, even though a lion never eats grass, he picked up the grass, put it in his mouth and started eating! He praised the cub saying, ‘This grass you brought for me tastes really good!’ The cub was very happy with himself. The relationship started deepening between them when the lion began to eat the grass.
Understand, the lion comes down and eats grass only to be able to bridge the gap between the cub and himself. Even though he never really eats grass, he acts as if he is eating it and loving it.
Slowly the relationship grew between the lion and the cub. Sometimes when the lion tasted the grass brought by the cub he shouted at him, ‘Fool! Don’t you know which type of grass you should bring to me? What kind of grass is this? By now you should know what I eat. Next time bring me the right grass!’
The lion cub began to think, ‘He is getting angry. I also get angry sometimes. So he speaks my language and I can speak his language. He is just like me!’ When the lion eats the grass, he comes down from his level, from his plane, from his consciousness, to connect with the cub. The cub immediately felt very comfortable. It could now connect with the lion. Now the cub decided, ‘I must bring the right grass and fresh milk next time. I must do things the right way. Maybe I should have the grass packed properly.’
The cub made plans, thinking he had been scolded by the lion because he did not do his work properly! This is how the relationship started happening between the cub and the lion. Now the cub started feeling free and he started coming to the forest to see the lion whenever he felt like it. The cub started feeling very comfortable around the lion, very relaxed. It did not know the ‘master’ plan of the ‘master’ lion. One day when the cub came as usual with grass and milk, he saw the lion sitting with a large chunk of meat in front of him. The moment the cub saw the meat he got afraid and started shouting, ‘Why do you have meat on your plate? What is this? Are you a non- vegetarian? I did not know you are a non-vegetarian! You are such a loving and charismatic person. You cannot be a non-vegetarian! You eat all these terrible things! I am a vegetarian! I can’t digest this!’
This time the lion did not take the time or energy to explain anything. He simply caught hold of the neck of the cub, picked up some meat and forced it into the cub’s mouth. The moment the meat entered his mouth, the cub tasted the blood from the meat and something suddenly happened within him. The cub could not understand what was going on. The cub had tasted meat for the very first time! He was overwhelmed with the feeling that rose in him. This is what happens in your first experience of bliss, satori! When you experience it, you will understand!
On tasting the meat, the cub let out a roar like a lion! He started roaring announcing his true nature. He expressed his true nature. Now the lion looked straight into the eyes of the cub and said, ‘Tat tvam asi’ – That art Thou – you are That.’ The initiation happened. The lion became a lion. That was all. The lion who thought he was a goat became a lion! You are a lion, not a goat!
Understand, you are neither man nor the identity you think you are. You are very much like the goat. In fact, you are the goat. Look at me and understand. I too thought I was a goat, but just look at the way I became a lion. Just take a close look at my own life. Then you will understand how foolish you are to think of yourself as a goat, and you will automatically become a lion!
This is what Krishna means when He says, ‘When you understand My life, you will be liberated.’ A liberated man’s life liberates you because it shows exactly where you stand now. The liberated man too was ignorant once and stood in the same place you are standing now. This will give you the tremendous courage that you need to swallow raw meat to taste your inherent nature that is bliss and to start roaring instead of bleating. When this experience happens you roar instead of bleating.
How long did it take for the cub to realize he was a lion? Hardly a second! The moment the meat and the blood went into his mouth he started roaring. But remember how long it took just to get the meat into the mouth of the cub!
It takes time to enter the master’s cave. The relationship, the bridging needs to happen before that. That is why it takes some time.
Enlightenment itself does not take time. The bridge, the trust to transmit that experience takes time.
source: Living Enlightenment