Fear and transcendence: The Tiger is here

This morning during meditation, I had a vision. I saw a cave just walking distance away; the floor of the opening delineated by glittering gray and glassiness in an otherwise unformed dark space. I walked into the cave and saw nothing but black. I wanted to imagine light, anything that would give me direction and comfort. But I stayed still and waited.

A tiger emerged, stalking steady and confident as they do. And still I stood, watching, breathing, not allowing fear to make me flee. The tiger pawed at my face, ripping it apart. I felt sensation but no pain nor fear. And I saw my spirit flow out of the body and sit on the back of this tiger, who proceeded to walk out of the cave in the dark. My spirit tried to tell the tiger which path to consider, and it followed that guidance, even though the tiger knew the fastest way to get us out of the dark. Quickly enough, we climbed upwards until we emerged into light and a beautiful, glowing promised land…new life.  Upon reaching this mount, I caressed the soft fur on the back of this tiger and kissed it. It held out its paw with the sharp claws that freed me and I touched my hand on it.

If you are like me, you feel how stories can conduct truth like nothing else. Like many children, my mind was enchanted by stories as they offered me retreat from a world in which adults dominated and at times neglected my needs.

It seems clear to me now that my higher self knew there would be few things more effective than a personal parable to get my attention and give me insight… a parable influenced by stories I knew as a child.

I recalled a children’s book that illustrated the poetry of William Blake:

“Tyger, Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

And of the tale of Buddha who, in one of his incarnations, willingly and compassionately gave his own flesh so that the tigers could eat.

To look into a tiger’s face and to feel that there is something more than fear there, suggests to me that fear often has a valuable lesson attached to it. Unless I am in a genuine flight or fight situation, my fears are like loud sirens prodding me to look in the direction my heart truly wishes to follow. If I look away, I give up my power to fear and illusion.

On this day, in this vision, I was able to look into the tiger’s eyes and stay steady in its sheer power and wisdom. And I learned that if I can stay present with what appears fearful, I may just get the miracle I have been wishing for. This is the lesson we all learn when we finally confront our fear.

I also know that next time the tiger appears, I will be wise enough to recognize it as my guide.

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