~The Lion’s Gaze~

One of the most beautiful teachings in Buddhism is called “The Lion’s Gaze.” The following example is given as an illustration: when we throw a stick around a dog, the dog runs after the stick, but when we throw a stick around a lion, the lion runs after us. The throwing of the stick in this example represents when an uncomfortable, afflictive emotion inside of us gets triggered. When we are triggered, it is as if a button inside of us has been pushed which activates an unconscious, compulsive knee-jerk reflex. Running after the stick like the dog, which is to indulge in and “act out” being triggered, is to put our attention outside of ourselves. This is to relate to what is triggering us in the outside world as “the problem.” From this point of view, if only what was triggering us in the outside world would stop, we would feel better and the problem would be solved. Having the gaze of the lion, however, if we become triggered by something, we turn our gaze within ourselves and self-reflect, looking at whatever it is within us that has gotten activated. The lion is not afraid to go right to the source of the trigger, which is never outside, but always within ourselves. Assuming the fearless gaze of the lion, we relate to the situation that has triggered us as a gift, as it has helped us access a part of ourselves that up until now has been unconscious, and hence hidden.

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