Are you a lion or a sheep? That is a good question. Perhaps this ancient parable will help you find your answer.
A Young Lion Gets Lost
One day, a baby lion wandered away from its mother. It was lost for days– hungry, tired, and alone. Suddenly, the baby lion came upon a herd of sheep. One of the mother sheep took pity on the poor, malnourished baby lion and adopted it as her own. She showed her new baby how to forage for grass, what noises to make to talk to other sheep, and how to warn them of coming danger.
The young lion grew up amidst the flock of sheep. Many years passed. Even though he had a long tail, a big mane, and looked nothing like a sheep, the lion had come to behave exactly like a sheep. It bleated like a sheep instead of roaring and ate grass instead of meat. The young lion acted exactly like a weak, meek lamb.
One day, a ferocious, older lion strolled into the green pasture, delighted to find this flock of sheep. Thrilled with joy and extremely hungry, the older lion pursued the fleeing flock of sheep. To his amazement, he saw a young lion, with his tail high up in the air, fleeing as fast as he could along with the sheep.
The older lion paused for a moment, bewildered at what he had saw. He could not understand why the youngster would run away from him with the sheep. Ignoring his hunger, he raced hard and pounced upon the escaping young lion, who froze in fear. The big lion was puzzled more than ever.
The Wake-Up Call
The old master roared at the youngster, “What’s the matter with you? Why do you run away from me in fear?”
The young lion closed his eyes and bleated meekly, “Please let me go. Please don’t kill me. I’m just a sheep brought up with this flock.”
“Now I see why you’re bleating,” said the old lion. He grabbed the young lion by the mane with his mighty jaws and dragged him towards the lake at the end of the pasture. When they reached the shore of the lake, the old lion pushed the young one’s head so that it was reflected in the water.
He began to shake the youngster. “Open your eyes! Look! You are a lion, and a powerful one at that. You are not a sheep.”
“Bleat, bleat, bleat. Please don’t kill me. Let me go. I am not a lion. I am only a poor, helpless sheep,” wailed the youngster.
The older lion gave the young, meek lion a terrible shake. He opened his eyes and was astonished to find that the reflection of his head was not what he expected. Instead of sheep’s head, he saw the head of a lion, like the one who was shaking him.
The big lion shook him again. “Look at my broad face and your face reflected in the water. They are the same. Now, you must roar instead of bleating!”
The younger lion, now convinced that he wasn’t a sheep but a powerful lion, tried to roar. He could only produce feeble bleat-like roars. As the older lion continued to push him, the young lion finally succeeded in roaring. Finally knowing who he was, the young lion followed his older kin out of the pasture and into the jungle.
Are You a Lion or a Sheep?
We are so easily programmed by our surroundings – our parents, teachers, friends, and especially now, the media. It often takes great courage to look at who we truly are instead of who we have grown up believing we are.
Look in the mirror. Look deeply into your eyes and your heart. Are you who you have been programmed to be, or are you more? Embrace your truth, yourself as Source, and the path of your heart. Do not run away from your destiny; run toward it.