Excerpts - The Lion Tamer - (An excerpt from the Bel Air, CA Workshop- 9/23/77)
So I’m going to put down some of the things that some of the people I have met have made as true and live by. Now basically it only requires a few things to make true, to get things goin’ easy. And inasmuch as I’m a very simple person, I could leave it simple. So one would be “Purpose.” …… And another one is, “How do I see self?” and then there’s, “How do I see others?” Now these are just some of the things I’ve found that people make truth about. We’ll keep it as simple as possible.
…… So, how do I see self? Now, what the self is—let’s fix it—nobody really knows, you know. But we can make any truth we want to and then we live by it. So it’s kind of truth is what I make as though it’s true - not what somebody else did, huh? So I’ve run into lots of people that’s tryin’ to find their “real self”. Did you ever hunt on that trip, Neal? You’ve been on that junk - tryin’ to find your real self instead of the not-I’s talkin’. I’ve talked to Neal on the phone a few times in my life. You ever try to find the real self there, Darlene?
(For a long time.)
For a long hitch. And did you ever catch her?
(She kept changing.)
Keep flyin’ around all the time; you get this and then you get that. So how do I see self? You make up the way you’re gonna see yourself and that’s the way it is. Now I asked a bunch of these people and they said, “I see self (what they told me, and I’ve watched them and they live by it)… I see self as an invisible spirit.” And so that’s total dis-identification from the body and so forth. And I said, “Well, how do you see the body and the awareness and the mind and so forth?” And they said, “Well I see that as a ‘being’. I see self as an invisible spirit that has caught a vehicle… that has a vehicle.” And that the vehicle to these people said somethin’ like, “Well I see it as I caught a wild animal and it’s for always wantin’ to run off.”
And for years (and the way they see most people doin’) they caught a wild animal. The thing grew up and they’re hangin’ on for dear life to hang onto it and that’s all—but they really have no control over it. It just runs in first one wild direction and another one. In other words they would see this thing we put up here as: here’s the physical body and here is the personalities—a couple of ‘em (he points to “A” and “B” in The Picture of Man) —and they would see that as something like a wagon with two horses hitched to it and the horses are tryin’ to go in different directions. One horse is tryin’ to run out and bite everybody it sees and one’s trying to come back and bite you out of the wagon. And about all you can do is to hang on for dear life. They call that tryin’ to “survive” or “cope” or what-have-you. Now this is—I’m not sayin’ it’s true. It’s something I’ve observed some people live with and they’re getting’ along pretty well with it. And so they’re totally dis-identified from this (pointing to the not-I’s) —this is a wild creature to them—wild creature that they caught and so they’re workin’ on the thing.
“I see self as an invisible spirit that has a vehicle.” They just use it as a vehicle. And so consequently, if we have a wild creature, probably one of the better things we could do with it or one of the useful things we could do, would be to domesticate it.
Now of course, that is the last thing anybody ever thinks of. They complain about the body hurting them. They say, “My body,” you know, like it’s a vehicle. “It hurts me.” And sometimes it fattens and I can’t carry it around; it’s too heavy to tote around. “And that mind worries me.” Did you ever hear a person say, “My thoughts are drivin’ me crazy”? Huh? Have you ever said something like that? “My thoughts are drivin’ me crazy.” And somebody told me last night, “My thoughts won’t let me sleep.” They’ll pick on you. Your thoughts ever pick on you?
(Yeah, many times.)
They do. So if you had a horse or a dog and it kept pickin’ on you… you had a cat… would you try to domesticate the thing? Huh? Seems like that’d be a reasonable thing to do, wouldn’t it? Domesticate it. You train it.
So they have taken on as a job that “I see self as an invisible spirit with this wild creature.” Now they have set about to domesticate it. Now, they let it have what it needs for survival—some amount of attention. From thereon it’s a servant. And when one of the horses starts to bite ‘em, they put it back in line. When it starts to bite somebody else, they put it back in line—right quick.
Now you ever been to a circus and seen the lion tamer? And he has the lion sit on little pedestals along and he’s carrying a chair and a whip – a chair in one hand and a whip in the other. And if one of those lions jumps off on the floor or snarls at one of the other cats over on another pedestal, does the lion tamer fall down on the floor and say, “I simply can’t cope with these! I just have nothin’ but trouble - he’s ruined my whole day!” Naw, he says, “Get back up there!” and he sits there and whips that little whip and shoves that chair in its face and the cat gets back up on the pedestal and sits there.
Now a lion tamer has a determination—he has a will, and he says, “You get back up there!” Now, if one little emotion went to hollerin’ at you as to how guilty you are, what would you do? “Oh I wish I could live better. I could do all these things.” Make the thing get back on its pedestal, you know? Whip it. “Get back up there!” I’m not going to sit here and feel guilty—that’s stupid. That’s one of the more miserable feelings I ever felt.
I had a big touch of it when I was about six years old—a bunch of kids came by one day and said we’d go down towards the creek about two or three miles away, and we went to the creek. And when they got there, they decided to go fishin’. Now this was on Sunday and I grew up back in the Fundamentalist Bible Belt of Appalachia and fishin’ on Sunday was guaranteed to send you to hell for all eternity to be burned. (Never get burned up—just burned.) And you might say that I had a little touch of the guilties. Now I couldn’t not go fishin’ because then they would have laughed at me as being a pantywaist or sissy or somethin’. So, you can’t be looked down on by your peers because you are a goody-good…goody-good-two-shoes. But you couldn’t keep the guilt goin’ - now that was horrible.
Now, of course, I found a very inadequate way of dealing with it then which has been a lot of fun through the years until I learned a little better. Whenever I felt guilty about something, I’d go do it twice more because I went fishin’ the next Sunday and I didn’t feel quite as guilty. And the third Sunday it didn’t bother me so. So I learned me a route that: anytime I felt guilty, go do it twice more right quick and it won’t hurt me a bit.
But that did cause a certain amount of disapproval from certain circles, I must say. So I’ve learned later by listening to certain people that maybe you could domesticate these things. So if somethin’ tries to make you feel guilty, it’s one of the big cats jumped off the pedestal and on the floor. Are you gonna sit there and scream about it? Or make him get back on the pedestal. Which one would you do, Kathy?
Make him get back on the pedestal. So you would domesticate him. So these people see the self, themselves, as an invisible spirit that has a wild creature with two wills that they’ve been hangin’ onto for all life and now they’re domesticating it. And you know, that looks like a fairly reasonable thing. Now you’re not blaming it because it’s a wild creature. You don’t blame wild creatures for bein’ the nature of a wild creature, do you? You fully expect that it’ll spook and run off every now and then. And you notice the lion tamer—no matter how long he’s been gettin’ these lions up on these pedestals and havin’ them do their little performance and jump down and go get on another one and jump through hoops and so forth, he still carries his whip and his chair.
Now basically, these people that tell me their philosophy of life is their whip and chair and that they fully expect that this wild creature, being what it is, will spook every now and then—fairly easily—and will jump. But they’re goin’ to just put him back on the pedestal. They’re not going to get all excited cause he jumped off. So if you wake up and you’ve found that the lion jumped off and had a wild thing, you had what you call a temper fit, there’s no use of sittin’ down and sayin’, “I haven’t done anything!” These people say, “Well we’ve gained lots of control over the lion—over this wild creature—but it still spooks and jumps, but we put it back on the pedestal again.” Huh? So there’s no use fallin’ down and sayin’, “I’m a failure.”
Can you imagine the lion tamer throwin’ the chair and the whip down and sayin’, “I’m a failure—I’ll never do anything with these cats! That one jumped off and I’ve been holdin’ him up there for 10 years.” You wouldn’t do a thing like that, would you? So what’s to be all upset? So you had a little one of the emotions get spooked and run off for a minute. Does that mean you’re a total fizzle, or do you just put it back where you want it?
And if the body runs off and gorges on chocolates and starches today, is that any reason to say, “I simply can’t do anything right”? Or do you tell it what it’s gonna get? You know, if you raise horses, you don’t let ‘em just go into the corn crib and eat all they want. They get a condition called “founder” which means they eat so durn much they die or get so sick they can’t walk around and their feet’s all swollen up and everything. You train them to go to the trough at a certain time a day and eat a certain amount of food, which you put out for them. And no more. You can’t leave it up to a horse to determine how much he’s gonna eat—he’ll founder himself.
And a human body apparently is of the equine family ‘cause I’ve noticed that it will do likewise—did you ever notice that? Stuff it, won’t it, ‘til it gets sick. It’ll actually stuff ‘til it’s ill. I’ve watched it over and over. So you can determine how much it’s gonna get. You study your wild creature and see about what it requires and then there’s no problem with it. But you always remember to carry your whip and chair ‘cause they spook easily. Huh? And the chair and the whip, the man says, is his philosophy of life - which means his truth.