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In the Myth Blast for this week, John Bucher writes about The Tiger King, Joseph Campbell’s story of the tiger cubs raised as a goat who then has to discover his true Tiger Face.
I associate the Tiger Face with Campbell. My book about what I learned from him has a tiger on the cover. (Here’s the image from a Tibetan silk scarf.)
One of those things I learned was from him was to say about the state of things, “It’s great the way it is”
Joe had a slight stutter which came out, paradoxically, as part of his eloquence, as part of the drama in his voice. It was occasionally noticeable in words beginning with the letter “G.” I can hear him saying, “People ask me. ‘What about all the evil and suffering in the world?’ And I say, ‘It’s great just the way it is’ ” (The Power of Myth, p. 80). That slight stutter of his on the word “great,” and the force with which he spoke behind it, have the word sound almost like the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes advertising cartoon Tony the Tiger: “They’re grrrrreat!” And that’s precisely the meaning of Joe’s spirituality of joyful participation.
As the epilogue of The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work, editor and filmmaker Phil Cousineau cites the story of the Tiger and the Goat. Says Joe:
“There’s a moral here, of course. It is that we’re all really tigers living here as goats. The function of sociology and most of our religious education is to teach us to be goats. But the function of the proper interpretation of mythological symbols and meditation discipline is to introduce you to your tiger face.” (p. 271)
When you look at the world with all its suffering and pain and lashing about, what you say is “Yes, it’s great just the way it is.” And you throw yourself into life like a tiger going after its prey.
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