I just started reading a book entitled, Radical Acceptance, Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha; am I thinking of becoming a Buddhist? No, but since I am no longer bound by Christian fundamentalism, I’m like a kid in a candy store, when it comes to reading about different religions. This particular book is very insightful and I’m really enjoying it.
Today, as I was reading, the Author was talking about how we don’t live our lives as freely as we could. As an analogy, she sighted the example of a white tiger named Mohini, who had lived in the Washington, D.C. National Zoo for many years. Most of Mohini’s life was spent in a twelve-by-twelve foot cage, with iron bars and a cement floor. She spent her days pacing restlessly back and forth in her cramped quarters. Eventually a natural habitat was built for her that consisted of several acres of land with vegetation, hills, trees and a pond. With great excitement and anticipation, they released her into her new home. Sadly, the tiger immediately sought refuge in a corner of the compound where she lived the rest of her life. She paced and paced in that corner until an area twelve by twelve feet was worn bare of grass. The author, Tara Brach, went on to say, “Perhaps the biggest tragedy in our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns.”
I have to admit that really struck a chord with me. I thought of how I had been just like that tiger, stuck in the same old patterns, blind to the wonders around me, judging others and myself from that twelve-by twelve foot world, only I was never really bound by those parameters, I just believed everyone when they told me that I was and that it was the best place for me to be. When I discovered the lie and saw the great world around me, that I was free to explore and enjoy, I began, ever so slowly to step out and do just that. It’s become easier and easier and I listen less and less to the fundamentalists that try to tell me to go back to my safe little corner. Whenever I get overwhelmed by the voices of my past life that are so steeped in the dogma of religion, I will remember Mohini and remind myself what it is to live free and how I never want to find myself pacing a twelve by twelve foot pattern in one small corner of this great big awesome world ever again. I feel sadness and compassion for those that are still trapped. I hope that maybe I can say something that may light the fire of free thinking under them and when the time is right they too can live and breath free. I can only hope.