The Lion’s Roar


So that is what is called the lion’s roar: whatever occurs in the realm of samsaric mind is regarded as the path, and everything is workable. It is a fearless proclamation-lion’s roar.


But as long as we patch over what we feel are unworkable situations, as long as we try to put the patchwork of metaphysical, philosophical or neat religious ideas over the holes, then it ceases to be a lion’s roar. It turns instead into a coward’s scream-which is very pathetic.


That is usually what happens. Whenever we feel that we can’t work on something, automatically we jump; we look back and try to find some kind of resources for ourselves. And we use all kinds of euphemisms: we ask, “What’s the medicine for this?”-which is a euphemism for patchwork. We are trying to conceal the hole. “How could we save face and avoid being embarrassed and challenged by our emotions? How could we get out of this?” Maybe we can avoid the whole thing by putting patchwork on top of patchwork. We can load ourselves with millions of patchworks all on top of each other. If the first one is too delicate, the second may be more powerful.


So we end up creating a suit of armor-but even that has some discrepancies. The joints in our suit of armor begin to squeak; there are some holes in there. And it is difficult to relate with that. We don’t quite want to put patches on the joints. Although we don’t want to squeak, we want to be able to move, we still want to dance-we still want to have joints.


So unless we are completely mummified, which is death, being a corpse, there’s no way to have perfect patchwork. For a living human being, patchwork is an absolutely impractical idea. From this point of view, buddhadharma without credentials is equal to the lion’s roar. It proclaims that we do not need patches anymore. We could transmute the substance, the feeling in its own existence, which is extremely powerful. In the Indian Ashokan artwork, the proclamation of lion’s roar was depicted by a sculpture of four lions looking in the four directions, which symbolizes that you don’t have a back. Every direction is a front; there is all-pervading awareness. And this symbol was adopted by modern Indians as their state emblem. So fearlessness comes from facing all directions. We don’t have to take one direction; once we begin to radiate our fearlessness, it is all pervading, radiating in all directions. In iconographical tradition, certain buddhas are represented as having a thousand faces, or a million faces, looking in all directions. That symbolizes panoramic awareness-looking everywhere, so there is nothing to defend.


– Chogyam Trungpa




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