Remember Mohini

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.


15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Zoe
    Feb 17, 2008 @ 10:12:30

    What a great post! One of my favourites. It reminds me of the day I called a friend of mine and I was so full of anxiety. I myself, was actually pacing back and forth and I told her I felt like a tiger in a cage…trapped. I can remember that day like it was yesterday.


  2. paulmct
    Feb 17, 2008 @ 15:37:54

    Really good analogy, notabarbie. If you want to do something to light the fire of free thinking in others who are still in their psychological cages, I guess you could send them this post.


  3. notabarbie
    Feb 18, 2008 @ 00:15:28

    Thanks Zoe, coming from you that means a lot. You don’t pace anymore though, right? 🙂 I know what you mean some of those moments are so vivid and I don’t think they will ever leave us. I believe we need them to remind us of where we were and where we are now.

    PaulMct, Hmmmm, I just might do that. I’ve actually considered directing them to my blog, but that would be too much like stripping myself bare before them and I’m just not ready for that. My non-fundamentalist,open minded and free thinking, other side of the family actually found this blog (Hi ,if you are reading!)and it has been a positive thing. Thanks for the suggestion Paul…it is very tempting.


  4. Zoe
    Feb 18, 2008 @ 03:15:50

    All my pacing now is done between blogs. :mrgreen:

    As you see, I have come full-circle and arrived back where I started. :rolls: It still has everything to do with working through my past-fundamentalist stuff. Blogging is a great way to get it all down, so that eventually, you don’t have to hand them a note explaining everything, or for that matter, point them to your blog. Eventually, you will be able to do it verbally, and with self-confidence. Now, what they do with it, remains to be seen.


  5. notabarbie
    Feb 18, 2008 @ 03:41:33

    Full circle….pshhhh…..
    “Now, what they do with it, remains to be seen.” Oh so true sistah!


  6. IgnorantBliss
    Feb 22, 2008 @ 08:02:40

    You might be interested in this recent interview given by Bart Ehrman. Not that you need any more reasons to question a fundamentalist faith, but he presents some interesting viewpoints that I think are fairly well articulated. He’s also “fallen” from the fundamentalist wagon and so has that perspective:


  7. Quester
    Feb 26, 2008 @ 15:58:03

    Notabarbie, I followed you here from the deconversion blog, and I’m glad I did! This post really hits home with me and has given me a lot to think about. I’ve always been one to crave, or at least admire, structure. I find sonnets more impressive than freeverse. I prefer monkeybars to sandboxes. I prefer set liturgy to spontaneous worship. I prefer getting together to do something with friends to ‘hanging out’. What I like about these things, though, are the freedom they give me. When I know the rules and expectations, I know where there is give and have tools to improvise.

    I look at the potential freedom of life without the commands and demands of religion, and I really don’t plan to change how I live at all. Just relax a little more, not needing to fear damnation for my friends, family and self. I pace my twelve by twelve patch of grass without craving exploration and adventure. I’m simply glad to take down the bars I’d put up to keep the invisible horrors out.

    Maybe things will change for me as time passes, but I feel no need to hurry.


  8. notabarbie
    Feb 26, 2008 @ 23:37:34

    Well put, Quester. Just having the bars gone is enough for some people. Actually, just tearing down those bars is huge! We are all different and that’s what makes the world go ’round, but as time goes on, you may want to explore your new habitat more and more. For me, it was like a whole new world opened up for me and I’m still amazed at it all. It is funny though, I was afraid that I might go completely wild without the fear of hell to contend with, but all in all it’s been the most healthy and happy thing that has happened in my life. I’ve enjoyed reading some of your stuff. It’s so nice to meet other people that are on the same journey. It can be a lonely endeavor at times, can’t it?


  9. Quester
    Feb 27, 2008 @ 03:18:42

    It’s so nice to meet other people that are on the same journey. It can be a lonely endeavor at times, can’t it?

    It can. I’m thankful we live in an age where you can find a support group for almost any point of view online. I know that if I don’t get to express things, the thoughts chase themselves around in my head in a non-helpful manner. Being able to ‘talk’ to people who can understand where I am makes a huge difference.


  10. exevangel
    Feb 27, 2008 @ 03:23:48

    Okay the scientist in me is dying to know what this means about the “training” that Christians get, which some of the rest of us might call “indoctrination”. If such “training” is as clearly biological as it must be in this sort of case as the tiger … unless something had happened like it had gone blind and did not see the new world around it–which might again be a good analogy for fundamentalist Christians… might have to think some more about this one.


  11. notabarbie
    Feb 27, 2008 @ 03:31:31

    Quester- thoughts chasing themselves around in one’s head, that’s a good way of putting it…


  12. notabarbie
    Feb 27, 2008 @ 03:33:28

    Oh great exevangel….just what I needed,something else to think about…
    Seriously, that is pretty thought provoking


  13. Quester
    Feb 27, 2008 @ 03:46:19

    Exevangel, does it need to be anything more than fear of the unknown/other reinforced by the certainty that “we” have it right (are among the chosen), while “they” hold nothing but lies that may ensnare us before we know it and tempt us to fall?

    You don’t have to be blind to freedom to refuse it. You just have to see it as less valuable than what you have.


  14. Quester
    Feb 27, 2008 @ 03:48:47

    Quester- thoughts chasing themselves around in one’s head, that’s a good way of putting it…

    Unlike some I know (and sometimes envy), I can’t seem to stop thinking. I can sometimes redirect my thoughts, but often have to express them in some form so I can see them more clearly and deal with them appropriately. Otherwise, yes, they just go in circles, which I find tends to be unhealthy for me.


  15. exevangel
    Feb 29, 2008 @ 05:31:02


    WE can refuse it but animals–less likely. I had a dog that used to take off at a fast trot the second he sensed that his collar was loose. That little buggar was off like lightening at the first sign of freedom. I still wonder about what this “tiger response” implies about our innate biology.


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