Discovering your tiger face

By Jon Hillenbrand In Poetry


© 21st Century Tiger

Forwarded to me by my Yoga instructor Sarah Hillenbrand
There once was a tiger that lived in the jungle. She gave birth to a baby tiger cub, but then she died, leaving her cub alone in the world. The little cub went out searching for a mother. One day, he came across a herd of sheep grazing on grass. The sheep saw the little cub and took him into their herd and raised them as one of their own. The cub ate grass and lived peacefully and had no idea that he was a tiger.

One day a full-grown tiger came across the herd of sheep and charged into it, as tigers do. The whole herd scattered except for the little tiger cub, who had no idea of the danger the new visitor posed. He just stood there, confused. The full-grown tiger asked the little cub, “What are you doing, hanging out with a bunch of sheep, eating grass and living peacefully?” The little cub didn’t know what to say, because he thought of himself as a sheep. He knew nothing different.

The elder tiger took the little cub to a river and led him to the edge. “Look at your reflection in the water, and tell me that you are not a tiger, like I am,” said the tiger to the cub. The cub looked and saw that did indeed look much like the intruder. He was surprised that he did not look at all like his family of sheep. At that point, a tiny little roar erupted from deep down in his belly and it scared him.

Then the elder tiger took the cub back to his den. There, his own family was feasting on a recently killed elk. “Eat,” said the tiger to the cub. The cub protested, “But I eat only grass and never meat. Yuck!” But the elder tiger insisted and the little cub took a bite of the elk meat. Once the food got into his system, it felt good. The cub felt nourished. A second, stronger roar emerged from the cub, and this time, it felt somewhat natural and the little cub was not scared at all. It actually felt good, and the little cub felt like he was getting in touch with himself for once. The next day the elder tiger took the cub to the forest to hunt, and the cub did not protest. He had become a tiger, as he was always meant to be.

We are all spiritual giants, but we have been raised to believe that we are spiritual pygmies. What we really learn in yoga class is to discover our own tiger faces.

What do you think?