The sheep turned into a tiger

- through Francois Leclercq

Published on

Or how to find your Buddha nature.

This very old story says that one day a tiger which was making incursions into a village and decimating the herds had been killed, and a small harmless, distraught baby tiger had come to moan among the sheep of the herd and had begun to suckle a sheep. As this baby tiger was funny, the shepherd had kept it.

And now this little beast, still at the breast, is learning to live among the sheep. When the dogs bark, when the shepherd makes the big voice, he gets scared. Hearing bleating from morning till night, he does his best to make "meee" and, seeing all the other animals grazing grass, he has no idea of ​​eating anything but grass. That certainly doesn't make a tiger happy, because that food and way of life doesn't suit him, but it does make a tiger who's never seen anything but sheep.

The story assumes that he doesn't look very closely at his paws and, since he has no mirror to look at his face, he comes to believe that he is a sheep among others. Every evening he rushes with the other sheep to enter the fold, and every morning he runs with the other sheep to graze in the meadow.

One fine day, there is a certain tension among the villagers and the shepherds of the surroundings because, in this village at the edge of the jungle, it is reported that a new tiger has come prowling. The dogs bark, the shepherds group together, light fires. The beast comes to attack the herd, but, to his great surprise, he sees a baby tiger in the middle of all the sheep. He gives up this idea of ​​devouring a few sheep and decides to recover this young tiger and bring it back with him to the forest. But, feeling the fright of the other sheep and the nervousness of the shepherds, the little tiger is terrified in front of this enormous beast and he rushes in moaning with all the other sheep. He tries to run away, but the tiger leaps up, grabs the little tiger and takes him in his mouth, howling, moaning, terrified, torn from the only world he knew, that of shepherds, sheepfolds and herds.

“The bleating sheep has turned into a roaring tiger. »

Once in the forest the tiger tries to convince this fake sheep of its true nature and its true destiny.

The little one continues to tremble with fear. So the big tiger takes him to the edge of a river, forces him to look at himself in the water and the little animal is twice as scared because, in the water, he sees two tigers instead of one. . He looks at himself more carefully and he wonders, “What is this? In the water, I can clearly see the big tiger, but instead of seeing a sheep like all the others I have seen since I opened my eyes, I see another tiger. »

So he tries to understand. " Who am I ? He looks at himself a little more carefully than he had before. He sees that he has black-striped paws, and already his sheep's memory, his sheep's experience, his sheep's mind are beginning to waver.

All human beings are Buddha-nature, are created in the image of God, are freedom, the infinite and limitless power of atman.

The tiger takes him to his lair and offers him to eat meat. The little one is horrified at first, worried, it's not the grass he's used to browsing. But, little by little, he goes beyond his repugnance, because through his fear for this huge tiger that has captured him, he also feels an attraction. He starts trying to eat some meat. And, all of a sudden, his true nature wakes up, reveals itself and he begins to eat this meat heartily, to discover a taste which, far from displeasing him, makes his deep instinct vibrate in him. He devours all that meat and, to show his satisfaction, he tries a little bleat. At that moment, the great tiger lets out the same roar that had terrified all the sheep so much. The little tiger, instead of taking fright, feels the echo of this cry within him and, with a little taste of meat still in his mouth, he too lets out his first roar.

This is why it is reported as a Zen sentence: "The bleating sheep has turned into a roaring tiger". You don't change a real sheep into a tiger. We change into a roaring tiger a baby tiger who thought he was a sheep. And this force of sleep and bondage that I call the hypnotist convinced glorious tigers that they were just frightened sheep.

All human beings are Buddha-nature, are created in the image of God, are freedom, the infinite and limitless power of atman. And all human beings think of themselves as a poor needy, frustrated, painful, vulnerable man, slavishly imitating others, influenced by a herd mentality, while the tiger lives alone and independent

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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