I dream of lions.
The first one happened a few years ago. It was intense. I was in a room with a bunch of people, and then a fucking giant lion seemed to saunter out of nowhere. For some reason, I was wearing a robe and holding a staff. I walked up it and started shouting in some nonsense language and waving the staff around.
The lion roared and swiped at the air. I roared back. Then, the mighty beast began to settle down. It stopped roaring and laid flat on the floor. I stopped shouting, walked over and rubbed its ear.
Ever since then, I dream of lions a lot. There’s often a pride of them following me around like close friends.
I’m not a Jungian or Freudian, so I’m not big on formal dream interpretation manuals. But, to me, this carnivore clearly represented fear and aggression.
Life gets rough when we live in the grip of fear and anger. They sap the days of meaning, and cause us to make poor decisions. The only way I’ve been able to deal with them is by taming them.
Empowerment is a characteristic of the Path. So often we live at the mercy of others’ power, whether that “other” be people, nature, the situation we’re in, or even our own thoughts, views, feelings, and impulses.
I’m not talking about some kinda self-help, political, or mystical empowerment here; I’m not Katy Perry, and I don’t believe in gurus. This isn’t empowerment in a selfish, materialistic, or self-centered way. It’s the power of discipline, of the freedom that discipline opens up.
A disciplined mind has no enemies and sees no obstacles. With the heart of a lion, striding through the universe, there’s no one above us, no one below, and no one equal. No comparisons whatsoever. This is the practice of a lifetime.
So I want you to roar. I want you to step outside, find a secluded spot, look up at the vast sky, open your arms wide, and shout. I want to release all that fear and anger that’s been locked away beneath layers of shit, most of it’s not even your shit. The shit we’re born with is minimal and light to carry. The rest of it’s dumped onto us by other things that we’ve surrender our will to.
I want you to scream across space, cut through all the names and definitions, and feel that primal, raw passion that all of the anger and fear bow to.
Discipline isn’t domesticated; it’s wild. It takes a lot of endurance, bravery, and command to be a lion. But that’s what I want you to be, for us to be. A pride of lions.
We all have that roar in us, caught in our throats. We all have that aggression that can be tamed and transformed into ferocious compassion and fearlessness. The mind that can pick up a handful of dirt and breathe in the entirety of the Earth.
Tread on no one, and let no one tread on you—especially yourself.
A Zen friend commented recently that my approach to things seems very aloof and dispassionate when it comes to serving others and making the world a better, more engaged place. But to me, sharing things like this is that service.
If everyone could be a lion, if everyone could stand up on their own feet and stop bothering people, if we could all find satisfaction within and stop using others to satisfy us, if we could all engage our own Awakened nature, isn’t that a better world?
There’s no point in trying to tame someone else’s lions, we just end up putting them in a zoo that same way we were put in zoos. Tame your own lions, then share with others how you did it. This is the work we do in the world.