The Lion who thought he was a Sheep

As told by Sri Sri Paramhansa Yogananda Ji

A lioness, huge with an unborn baby lion in her body, was growing weak from lack of food. Roaring with sadness and hunger, and heavy with the baby lion, the lioness fell asleep at the edge of the forest near a pasture. She woke up to the sounds of a flock of sheep grazing nearby.

Forgetting the heavy baby lion in her body, and impelled by the madness of hunger, the lioness pounced on one of the young lambs and took it into the depths of the forest. The lioness did not realize that during the exertion of her mad leap at the lamb she had given birth to the baby lion.

The flock of sheep were so paralyzed with fear by the attack of the lioness that they couldn’t run away. When the lioness had departed and the panic was over, to their great astonishment, they discovered the helpless baby lion crooning in their midst. One of the mother sheep took pity on the baby lion and adopted it as her own.

The young lion grew up amidst the flock of sheep behaving exactly like a sheep. The sheep-lion bleated instead of roaring and ate grass instead of meat. This vegetarian lion acted exactly like a weak, meek lamb.

One day, another lion strolled out of the nearby forest onto the green pasture, and to his great delight beheld this flock of sheep. Thrilled with joy and whipped by hunger, the great lion pursued the fleeing flock of sheep, when, with amazement, he saw a huge lion, with tail high up in the air, fleeing at top speed ahead of the sheep. Ignoring his hunger, he raced hard and pounced upon the escaping lion. The sheep-lion fainted with fear. The big lion was puzzled more than ever, and slapped the sheep-lion out of his swoon. In a deep voice he rebuked, “What’s the matter with you?! Why do you, my brother, flee from me?”

The sheep-lion closed his eyes and bleated out in sheep language, “Please let me go. Don’t kill me. I’m just a sheep brought up with yonder flock.” He caught the sheep-lion by the mane with his mighty jaws and dragged him toward a lake at the end of the pasture. When the big lion reached the shore of the lake, he pushed the sheep-lion’s head so that it was reflected in the water.

The big lion gave the sheep-lion a terrible shake. The sheep-lion opened his eyes, and was astonished to find that the reflection of his head was not, as he expected, a sheep’s head but a lion’s head, like that of the lion who was shaking him with his paw. Then the big lion said, “Look at my face and your face reflected in the water. They are the same. My face roars. Now! You must roar instead of bleating!”

The sheep-lion, convinced, tried to roar, but could only produce bleat-mingled roars. As the older lion continued to exhort him with slapping paws, the sheep-lion at last succeeded in roaring. Then both lions bounded across the pasture, entered the forest, and returned to the den of lions.

The story is a great metaphor for all us who bleat with fear and spend their entire lives in fears- fears of failure, fears of losing a relationship, fears of virtually anything. You could either live in fear or live with sheer confidence. Either way, you will live but with massive difference in your quality of life. You can live crouched in insecurities or you can live with dazzling self confidence that can move mountains. But don’t be in a mask worrying about your future. Don’t be a lion with a sheep’s soul. That’s a waste for both. Not realizing your full potential is like the worst thing you can do to your life (& regret when you get old)! Why would you choose such a life for yourself? Go and express yourself fully. Be a Tiger. Go Roar !

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