Tame the Wild Beasts

By Rudra Shivananda

One of the myriad names of the Divine is the Lord of Beasts – Pashupati, which is usually considered to indicate the Lord of created beings. However, from the internal perspective, wild animals are the internal emotions, uncontrolled desires and passions which ravage our peace of mind and an important part of attaining higher consciousness
is to tame these wild beasts, becoming in a microcosmic sense, a lord of beasts ourselves.

close up portrait of lion

We possess a menagerie, a veritable zoo within our minds – the lions of pride, the wolves of hunger, boar of lusts, the bison of ignorance, deer that run in fear and so on, as far as our imagination can reach. On the other hand, we also are aware of the emblems of domesticated animals such as the bull that attends the Lord or the lambs that came to witness the birth of a Jesus – these tame animals represent our human nature rising above our animal nature.

Higher consciousness is about rising above the animal consciousness to the human consciousness and staying in the human consciousness – this can only happen when the lower wild animal nature is tamed. Moreover, higher consciousness is about rising above
even the human consciousness to the level of Divine consciousness – a superhuman feat.

In the first phase, to tame the wild beasts, we need to apply self-control. In our society of excesses and consumerism, self-control is thrown out the window – the popular society encourages a level of letting go – from over-eating to over-sexing, from over-acquiring to over-emoting. Self-control is confused with repression in pop psychology and discouraged – accordingly, it is better to let out some steam than control the anger.

In most spiritual traditions, it has always been recognized that controlling one’s thoughts, emotions, speech and actions are the first steps in attaining the goal of higher consciousness.

In yogic traditions, we have narrowed it down to no more than five areas for self-control:

1. Tell the truth and don’t lie – this includes living your truth as well – walking the talk, so to speak!

2. Refrain from harming other living beings – this includes looking after your own well-being also.

3. Refrain from wasting your life’s energy on non-essential activities – you can enjoy yourself but not overindulge.

4. Refrain from stealing – this includes taking credit for the work of others.

5. Do not be attached to things – all things are transient.

The sages have determined that if we practice these five rules, we can tame the wild animals. For instance, we lie or harm others because of fear or desire to gain something, or because of pride and so refraining from lying or harming others control the animal passions of fear, desire and pride.

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