I understand tarot. Images have been telling me their secrets since I was a small child roaming art museums and listening. The paintings shared their warnings, guidance and love. I trust images.
Sometimes an image can change your life.
On my 60th birthday, I pulled No. 15 Conditioning from the OSHO Zen Tarot deck. The card depicts a majestic lion, paws bound amongst a herd of sheep. As the story goes, the lion was raised among sheep, so he imagined himself a sheep and assumed their personality. One day, another lion captured him and took him to a pond, where he was forced to face his true reflection.
Like this lion, I had developed an image of myself, not from my own experience but from the opinions of others. This personality was not my own, but rather imposed by outside influences replacing any individuality trying to emerge. I was a lion who had become just another sheep in the herd, bound and unconscious of the true me.
In Kundalini Yoga we say Sat Nam. Sat means truth, Nam means name. We say it to recognize the true you, the true me. But who was that? When I wrapped myself in my personality, my individuality remained buried. Individuality is present by my sheer existence. Personality is a construct of society, a social convenience believed to be necessary to maintain an orderly society. Personality accumulates the opinions of others and creates a false identity.
Individuality creates freedom of movement and will not follow like a sheep. Sheep move in crowds, together. In a crowd, sheep seek protection, security. Individuality has the independent, free quality of the lion. The lion moves alone, needing no protection.
The Conditioning card tells us to look at our reflections and ask “Who are we?” Are we conditioned by our society, families and friends to follow like sheep?
I compromised myself to help those around me feel safe. I didn’t want to rock the boat, cause discomfort or assert desires that seemed to benefit only me. As my Kundalini Yoga practice deepened and its extraordinary effects took hold, I found the sheep personality became a series of numbing compromises I made for others. I felt small, marginalized and stifled. I lived by someone else’s rules, believing that compromises insured love and inclusion.
Slowly I began to hear my voice, my roar. The lion in me emerged, and when expressed formed a unique sense of freedom. It manifested in an individuality I didn’t know existed. My life was forever changed.
Kundalini Yoga sees individuals as lions. When the lion appeared on my 60th birthday, it was as if I had been kidnapped and shown my reflection. Since then, searching for and ultimately expressing my individuality has been deeply satisfying on a personal level. But it has caused heartache and loss. Some of the sheep around me have moved away. Some I’ve left behind. Although they remain in my heart, they can no longer remain in my life.
I’ve practiced the Kriya for Self Reliance every day since December 12, 2017. Radiance emerged as the fear associated with the sheep personality began to disappear. Whatever I learned from others about how I should be to be accepted, loved and included receded like an old memory. Like the lion, it is no longer my purpose to please others. I teach this Kriya every Wednesday.
In Kundalini Yoga, practitioners may take on a spiritual name. Names end with Singh for men or Kaur for women, meaning lion or lioness. I have not formerly taken a spiritual name. But if I did, and I could choose, I’d take Singh Kaur.
Lion Lioness. A sheep no more.
Cher teaches Wednesdays at 10:30 am and 7:00 pm.