DISTRACTED BY A FOUR-LEGGED STOOL

 

Master: Most courageous lion tamers use two tools to control and ‘tame’ the fierce companions prowling around the cage: a whip and a stool, or a chair. Which of the two is the most valuable to the tamer?

Student: Surely the whip.

Master: No. The one most important tool is the stool, and more specifically, the four legs of the stool!

Student: That’s odd! Why so?

Master:  A lion can easily overpower, maul and kill a person. However, it’s only easy for the lion to do so if it can focus on the singular object of the person. The lion tamer uses the stool as a method of distraction. The lion, when faced with the legs of the stool, tries to focus on all four at once. Confused, and unable to focus, it stands there, frozen!  The lion tamer remains relatively safe behind the stool.

Source: Based on a story found in
David Feldman
How Does Aspirin Find a Headache?
(New York: HarperCollins, 1993.) pages 9-11

CONSIDER THIS

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Whether you know it or not, you’re already in the circus ring of life. Most of the time, we sit quietly, maybe confused, gazing at the wooden stool dangled in front of us, silently debating about which leg is the most important.

“You will never get to the end of the journey if you stop to shy a stone at every dog that barks.” —Winston Churchill, Speech, 3 December 1923

“The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.” —Richard Cecil

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” —Source Unknown

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WAKE UP AND STAY AWAKE

The disciple, wanting to tease the master, said with a chuckle, “Here’s a question for you. Imagine that you’re sleeping. Imagine that you’re dreaming. A big lion is chasing you. You try to run away and you see a tiger coming in front of you. You turn sideways, but every side you turn to, you find a ferocious animal coming after you. How can you escape?”

And the master, with a twinkle in his eye, and confidence is his voice, said, “Wake up!”

Source: As retold by Philip Chircop

CONSIDER THIS

By waking up, one enters a whole new world of reality, different from that of the dream world. What was a huge problem in the dream state becomes a non-issue in the waking state.

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

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LION AND LAMB TOGETHER

One fine Sunday, Berel decided to go to the local zoo with his wife and kids.

As he neared the lion’s cage, he was astonished to see a lamb lying peacefully with a lion beside her.

“That’s wonderful,” he cried. “Finally, the prophecy from the Good Book is realized!”

Berel ran to the zookeeper. “My congratulations! You have finally made everyone see that peace is at hand.  But tell me,” he implored the zookeeper, “how do you make a lion lie down with the lamb?”

“It’s no problem,” replied the zookeeper. “Every morning, I simply put another lamb in the lion’s cage!”

Source: Slightly adapted from Gedalia Peterseil,
Tell It from the Torah
(Pitspopany Press, 1998) page 143

CONSIDER THIS

Here’s God’s dream for humanity according to the Good Book:

The wolf will romp with the lamb,
the leopard sleep with the kid.
Calf and lion will eat from the same trough,
and a little child will tend them.

Cow and bear will graze the same pasture,
their calves and cubs grow up together,
and the lion eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens,
the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent.
Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill
on my holy mountain.
The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive,
a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide. – Isaiah 11:6-9

Normally the lamb is lunch for the lion and the goat is a snack for the leopard.  Animals that don’t normally get on – eat together and rest side by side in peace.  And what is more “a child will lead them”,  the prophet Isaiah says.  Animals that we would hardly describe as suitable pets for a child – wolves, leopards, lions and snakes are play mates for a little child. There is no fear and no anxiety.  The helpless and the innocent live in safety and have no dread of the big and the powerful.

Is this just a perfect picture of a perfect world?  Is this just a dream, a surrealistic vision? What do you think is possible in a world that is still wounded by so much division?

STUDYING THE LOCK

A group of lions in a zoo, suffering grievously from their imprisonment, formed themselves into various groups. There was the patriotic group: these would meet very often and sing sad songs about their jungle home; nostalgia was their specialty. Then there was the political group whose meetings were always so noisy that you had the impression they were good for something. And then there were a few groups whose interest was entertainment; their aim was to distract themselves from their predicament. But there was one lion who refused to join any of these groups. He would sit in front of the gate and stare straight ahead all day.  the others thought him anti-social and depressed, and they stopped inviting him to join their groups. One day, out of pity, one  of them sat down beside him and asked gently, “What goes on in your poor sad mind as you sit all day staring?”

“I’m studying the lock.” he replied.

Source |  Donaugh O’Shea OP, In a Fitful Light. Conversations On Christian Living
(Dominican Publications, 1994 ) pages 128-129

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • The lone lion, a philosopher lion! Was he not the only practical animal in the whole zoo?

THE LION IN THE MARBLE

There was once a sculptor who worked hard with hammer and chisel on a large block of marble. A little child who was watching him saw nothing more than large and small pieces of stone falling away left and right. He had no idea what was happening. But when the boy returned to the studio a few weeks later, he saw, to his surprise, a large, powerful lion sitting in the place where the marble had stood. With great excitement, the boy ran to the sculptor and said, “Sir, tell me, how did you know there was a lion in the marble?”

Source | Henri Nouwen, Clowning in Rome, (Image, 2000) pages 83-84

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • What is your answer to the above question? One possible answer is: “I knew there was a lion in the marble because before I saw the lion in the marble, I saw him in my own heart. The secret is that it was the lion in my heart that recognized the lion in the marble.”
  • “The art of sculpture is, first of all, the art of seeing. In one block of marble, Michelangelo saw a loving mother holding her dead son on her lap, while in another, he saw a self-confident David ready to hurl his stone at the approaching Goliath, and in a third, he saw an irate Moses at the point of rising in anger from his seat. Visual art is indeed the art of seeing, and the practice of disciplines is a way to make visible what has been seen. The skillful artist is a liberator who frees from bondage the figures hidden for billions of years inside the marble. The artist reveals the true identity of the figures!” | Henri Nouwen, Clowning in Rome, (Image, 2000) page 84

THE LION WHO THOUGHT HE WAS A SHEEP

There was a lion that grew up in a flock of sheep and so he had no consciousness that he was a lion.  He didn’t know he was a lion.  He would bleat like a sheep, he’d eat grass like a sheep.  One day they were wandering at the edge of a big jungle when a mighty lion let out a big roar and leaped out of the forest and right into the middle of the flock.  All the sheep scattered and ran away.  Imagine the surprise of the jungle lion when he saw this other lion there among the sheep.  So, he gave chase.  He got hold of him.  And there was this lion, cringing in front of the king of the jungle.  And the jungle lion said to him, “What are you doing here?”

And the other lion said, “Have mercy on me.  Don’t eat me.  Have mercy on me.”  But the king of the forest dragged him away saying “Come on with me.”  And he took him to a lake and he said, “Look.”  So, the lion who thought he was a sheep looked and for the first time he saw his reflection.  He saw his image.  Then he looked at the jungle lion, and he looked in the water again, and he let out a mighty roar.  He was never a sheep again.  It took only one minute.

Source | Anthony de MelloRediscovering Life. Pages 124-125

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • How tragic it is to live our lives with less than our fullest potential explored and invested!
  • What is still holding your “mighty roar” trapped within?  What is it going to take to give birth to lion in you?