Monday, March 21, 2011

Walking with Tigers

Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God. –A Course in Miracles

From Plato’s theory of shadows to the present day, we are intrigued with the idea that what we spend most of our time reacting to as “reality” is not true reality. For example, the idea that we are separate from one another is born of fear rather than truth. When we wake up from our illusion, we realize that there is nothing to fear because we are all united at our deepest energetic (soul) level. And everything is perfect.

I wrote before of falling off a ladder while cleaning the roof of my cabin (Falling into Now). When I felt the ladder begin to slip, I panicked, desperately clawing at the shingles for something to grab onto. I was terrified. But the instant I knew I was going to fall, that there was nothing I could do to stop it, I let go. I released the fear. Or rather it released me, since I clearly was not doing it deliberately. (At this point, I was not doing anything deliberately.) I was immediately filled with a sense of blissful well-being. Blissful doesn’t even begin to describe it. I don’t know words in any language to describe it. It was like being cradled in the arms of angels. Rapture. Perfection.

I was conscious as I tumbled. I felt my body bounce off the ladder on the way down. I felt my back hit the edge of the deck, and then I flipped off the deck to the ground below and slid to a stop. But all the way down, I was absolutely certain that everything was exactly the way it should be. I knew that my body might be hurt. I expected that at the least something would be broken. Maybe I would be paralyzed or even die. No problem. I knew in my deepest awareness that no matter what happened, no matter how it might seem on the “outside,” no matter whether my “normal” awareness could understand, everything was perfect just the way it was.

In her book Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach says, “Radical Acceptance is the willingness to experience ourselves and our life as it is. A moment of Radical Acceptance is a moment of genuine freedom.” That’s how I felt when I was falling. Genuinely free.

I look back at that experience as a gift of grace because I did not consciously or deliberately “accept” any of it. What happened is a mystery to my rational mind. But the gift remains because I can remember it. And remembering it reminds me in moments of fear and stress that my efforts to control what I can’t control lead only to suffering. It reminds me that there is a perfection beyond what I experience in my day to day challenges. And it reminds me to be grateful that for a few moments I lived it.

He who knows how to live can walk abroad
Without fear of rhinoceros or tiger.
He will not be wounded in battle.
For in him rhinoceroses can find no place to thrust their horn,
Tigers no place to use their claws,
And weapons no place to pierce.
Why is this so?
Because he has no place for death to enter.

–Tao Te Ching


  1. Galen: Would you not expect me to walk among tigers?

  2. JJ--I titled this post in your honor. I thought you would like it!

  3. Funny I just had a feeling JJ would have that to say! Very wise words and again you have such an amazing talent for delivery when you write the words just flow....thanks Galen!

  4. What a good message. If we all were to just "go with the fall" instead of clawing, we might have a softer landing.

  5. Great post! I can relate to it! :) It's really a wonderful moment when you can let go like this...

  6. Galen- Perhaps this is why I am here? I don't understand this concept of letting go of fear and I doubt seriously I would walk amongst tigers. I do know that fear guides too many of my choices and I want to change that. It's a start.

  7. Thanks for sharing a beautiful post on being free from fear. From your experience, you have demonstrated grace, courage and acceptance. I am glad to know that you have not only emerged fine but managed to gain important lessons to share. Inspiring story! Love it!

  8. Galen Pearl this is superb. You have posted it at just the right time for me. Next time I feel fear I shall think of this post and I know it will calm me. Heartfelt thanks.

  9. You've elucidated this concept beautifully. Being near 60 I'm not going up to roofs any more, but as a teaching metaphor I accept wholeheartedly - and I'm glad you weren't seriously hurt.

  10. Karen--Do you think that big tiger on JJ's blog gave it away? Thank you so much for your kind words.

    Bernie--I've read that people who are drunk or unconscious sometimes escape more serious injury in an accident because they don't tense up. I wasn't drunk or unconscious when I fell off the roof, but once I stopped clawing I was completely relaxed. Perhaps that did help me not get hurt (beyond bruises and scrapes). Perhaps there is a physical as well as an emotional/spiritual side to this, in a tai chi sort of way.

    Bz--Thanks for your comment.

    PAMO--Not sure I would walk (calmly) with tigers either! But your comment made me think of the two men who raised Christian the lion. Google it and be amazed at the videos!

    Evelyn--Thank you for your kind words. I would like to think that I would have remembered the lesson even if I had been seriously injured. I wonder....

    Carol--I'm so pleased that this post might offer some calm in the midst of challenge. Thank you.

    Mikey--I'm also near 60 and I assure you my ladder days are over! I'm glad I wasn't hurt, too, beyond bruises and scrapes. Hopefully the story works as a teaching metaphor without having to actually fall off a roof!

  11. Fear is such a big item for me - when every I get stuck I always trace it back to fear...fear is of the future and can not exist if we are in the present moment.

    Nice post, good writing.

    It also gave me a chuckle because I remember a film strip in health class about menstruation where it was referred to as "falling off the roof."

  12. Every post I read of yours give me pause, leads me to ponder, and teaches me something. Thank you.

  13. Patricia--I never recognized the connection between getting stuck and fear so clearly. You are exactly right--Thank you!

    Kara--Thank you for your kind words. I'm so pleased if anything I say is helpful to someone else.

  14. What an interesting post..and blog!

    We could use a blog like yours over at
    The Blogging Buddies

    We're heavy on Mom blogs, short on the "self-help" type.

    Have a Wild & Wacky Wednesday!

    Keep up the great information!

  15. Hi Galen,

    That is a lovely story of acceptance and letting go. I believe that we should do all we can to guide events and survive. But when we have done all that is humanly possible, we have to leave the rest to God or fate. Your experience with falling off the ladder kind of reminds me of those near death experiences that I read about or see on TV. I don't recall having such experiences of bliss before. When we realize that things are out of our control, all we can do is to accept what we must and adapt to the outcome as needed.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  16. Carolee--Welcome and thanks for following and for your comment. I appreciate the invitation and would like to know more. Please feel free to email me.

    Irving--In some ways, it was like some of those near death experiences I've read about. My life didn't flash before me and I didn't see loved ones or the "light" but I was definitely in an altered state. It was a powerful experience and it left a vivid memory. Thanks for your comment, as always!

  17. Hi there....found you thru An Average bolting out the door just now....but I'm comin' back to read this post.


  18. Jo--Hi and welcome! See you when you get back!

  19. Hi Galen....I'm back and just read this fabulous post!! I, too, believe that control is an illusion....the ONLY thing in our life we can control is OURSELVES AND WHAT OUR REACTION TO LIFE IS. Things are as you said...."what" and the sooner you can come to accept this simple LIFE DOES INDEED BECOME SO MUCH EASIER.

    thanks again for this wonderful post.


  20. Galen, thanks for visiting, and encouraging me to write again! Will try and put something up soon.

  21. Jo--Thanks for your nice comment. So glad you have joined the discussion and I look forward to hearing more of your ideas.

    Aneri--I look forward to it!

  22. ~~~utterly profound and beautiful. I loved this.


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