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Hold that Tiger

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, and a Nazi concentration camp survivor, got through his ordeal by creating what came to be called Logotherapy where you ‘prescribe' the disease to others or to yourself. You give it and its cure a meaning that embraces absolute principles and values. As a result, you recognize what the ‘disease' is and you know what to say to ‘turn it around.' His disease was withstanding the horrific experiences of the camp. And the prescription for survival that he found was to say to himself as if speaking to the Germans of the camp,

“You can do anything you want, torture me, starve me, kill me and do the same to my beloved family and friends, but… can't have ME, my mind, my heart, my choice. I do not have to give that to you and I never will."

He told himself this and took this prescription day and night. He survived to become a great inspiration to all, a great existential therapist, lecturer and writer of his time.

We all face trying times, physical, psychological, mental, searching for meaning, searching for the soul and seeking to realize the true self. Recognizing the specific ‘disease' of the moment is identifying the problem. Prescribing the cure that will heal the wound is life-saving and life-altering. It is survival for what-means-most to you in a seriously troubled situation.

Here's a true situation in metaphor. I am ensconced in a little nest tucked snuggly in a bountifully branched tree with possibilities of many leafy friends--and possibilities of even many more leafy friends in this and other magnificent forests. As it pans out, I am not in a magnificent state. I am exceeding troubled by inner churnings of pain, an overly sensitive nervous system, and by psychological meaninglessness and concomitant difficulties emerging from the traumatic situation.

Frankl experienced how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment.

Meaninglessness and desperation have many forms and gradations in life. In my story, unable to withstand the intensity of the situation, I jump (metaphorically) out of the tree! Upon crashing down, I am forthwith pounced upon by a rabid tiger. It has encompassed me and is tearing me apart. It has almost finished the job when I scream for help from those above in the tree.

“Help! Help! Come down and get your damn tiger off me!  Help!"

And I hear from above in a great forceful and immediate imperative (sounding like my mother.)

“My-Full-Name, let go of that tiger and get back up in this tree! Now!

And just as I, wretched and torn-up, am contemplating how impossible it is to let go of the tiger, I hear another voice equally imperative.

“Hell, hang on to that damn tiger with your life!”

What an explosive shock to hear that voice! What in the world? Who in the world would be saying that?

It's a better option.

Maybe it's the only one:

A challenge to death rather than a luke-warm lie down and die--as if I could climb back up the tree anyway!  One more time!

And so the disease has been identified --the tiger is tearing me to death. How do I hang on to that damn tiger with my life?

How many times have I climbed back up the tree, beaten and ragged, only to jump down again desperate to avoid boredom and missing life's target once again? Clearly, it is an inability to attain a stage, a stage in life that offers the realization of all my dreams and an opportunity to leave the hum-drum beating of the drums that enliven the life of the boughs. My heart synchs-it-not and my ears throb in response to a thunderous screeching reminder that I can't be any more alien to it all and still be human!

Why not move forward then and hold that tiger.  My Beloved Kripalvananda sits on a tiger skin.

Swami Kripalvananda sits on tiger skin

His guru Shiva sits on a tiger skin as well.

Lord Shiva sits on a tiger skin


And there are women who run with wolves. But just how do I hang on to that damn tiger with my life or run with wolves for that matter?

Actually, I know this tiger and like her (him-it and the many forms.) We are friends. It must be that I have requested this encounter. So I am fortunate to be able to investigate it.

I seek a Logotherapy prescription from the tiger. I have a serious misalignment. There is the truth that I experience, that I know, and the reality that I experience. The two are not congruent. I would ask the tiger, what would you suggest to get aligned? It is time for a little more than just more-of-the-same that happens anyway.

For one thing, I am on the ground grappling with the tiger, not nested up in the tree. I can welcome this. I like walking and talking with the tiger. I say to her:

L: You are very, very beautiful, Orangey-black.  Your walk is velvet on velvet; your intimacy is freshly cooling earth; and you are wisdom incarnate.   Tell me, what is in store for me?

T: How much grief are you storing?

L: It's unlimited; it cannot be described in quantity.

T: Why do you have it?

L: I was born with it.

T: Did you have it before you were born?

L: I don't know. I don't think so. I think it is part of the earthly breath.

T: Do you want to know what I do?

L: Yes, please tell me.

T: For me, grief is not a necessary element. In fact, it does not even exist. I breathe just like you and do not breathe in grief.

L: So I need to look in to my attachment or creation of grief?

T: Yes. What is the purpose of grieving?

L: To be connected with others-----Oh, I get it. I am already connected to others. This grief is something else, not very pretty.

T: You said it, not I. What is not pretty about it?

L: It is incongruous and heavy, sooty. But I don't think that is my problem. I'm not saying that the sooty isn't there. It is just that it is not relevant. Can we try something else?

T: What are you doing walking with me here? I am suppose to be skinned and cloaking your asana (seat).   Don't give me that not-guru excuse. I am your tiger, your ability, your ‘ orangey-black' as you say.

L: That's good, Tigress. I can speak to that. I don't want to skin you and sit on you. I like you; I like to look at you and talk to you. I like you to be free and wander around as you see fit.

T: Can I not do that on your asana? How would I do that? How would I wander and be free and still be skinned and covering your asana?

L: Well, I would have to consider you as a paper tiger or not physical, not like the physical me.

T: Could I still be wisdom?

L: I guess so.  What is wisdom in your words?

T: Wisdom is non-physical; it is the truth; absolute knowing. You are talking to an orangey-black figment of your imagination, an image that represents and stands in the way--blocking the experience of absolute truth. Once you get me skinned and on your asana, I will represent the Truth that supports you, the living Truth if you will. That is a yogi/yogini that lives the Truth.

L: OK. This is hard. I need little steps here. I have to get you to the non-physical, and not even an image in my mind. I love all those things I see and feel about you here and now. How can I love you as non-physical truth, not even a paper tiger image? How can I do that? And what about when the longing for you as you are here and now arises?

T: As I ‘are' IS  here and now as the non-physical, but it is not this image. As you continue, you will see plenty of tiger images like me in others also. I don't recommend you long for them. Make a clean break. Know truth for what it is.  Intend and know the truth of me.  You can do it. You have done it before.

Now, how will you create the prescription you are asking about? the prescription for getting where you want to go? What are you going to tell yourself? What is your Shiva resolve as the yogis say?

L: I am countering pain, grief, meaninglessness, and the snare of beauty, intimacy, and comfort of the elements. What would you suggest, Oh, Tiger, my tiger?

T: How about, “Hold that tiger! "

You can hold me within, and let me dissolve and rise up to the occasion. This will do for the snare of human longings. It only takes a second to dissolve and I am ‘up where I belong.'

L: OK, I think that will work for beauty, intimacy and the comfort of the elements. I don't lose them, they transform.  But what about pain, grief and meaninglessness?

T: Simply LOVE and continue to LOVE, the arisen transformed Tiger-Hold once you are there  with your resolve.

That's an accomplishment. Love the accomplishment.  Love is neither pain nor grief; nor is it meaninglessness.  They are misaligned stuck energy that will come into alignment as you become accomplished.  

The 'Tiger-Hold' is an accomplishment (metaphor) of love and truth for you and for all others. It is the true reality of infinite love and absolute truth.

L: Wow!  So once the tiger is held within until it (the image of it) dissolves and its energy rises up to where it belongs, then it is held up in the 'Tiger-Hold; with LOVE.

T: Yes

L: You hold at the bottom and you hold at the top!

T: Yes, but your holding transforms when it reaches the top.  At the top it is a different kind of hold.  But hold nevertheless.

L:  Thanks, Orangey black.  You beckon-called me when I was four, but not as a tiger--just the orangey black path.  Do you remember?

T:  I remember a lot more than you do!

L: May this skin-coat be shed for the tiger's orangey-black (metaphorically).  May the Great Energy-Wisdom Path be readily available as the tiger tiger burning bright.

Hold that Tiger!
Dissolves as Arising
Transforms to
LOVE the Tiger-Hold
Into the Beyond
Beyond the Beyond


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The Tiger Hold



©2005 Laurel Hovde
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