He became a beautiful young lion, but because things happened so slowly the sheep also became accustomed to the lion and the lion also became accustomed to the sheep. The sheep thought he is a little crazy, naturally. He’s not behaving…a little cuckoo, and he goes on growing. It is not supposed to be so. And pretending to be a lion, but he is not a lion. They have seen him from his very birth, they have brought him up, they have given their milk to him. He was a nonvegetarian by nature – no lion is vegetarian, but this lion was vegetarian because sheep are vegetarian. He used to eat grass with great joy.
They accepted this little difference that he is a little big and looks like a lion. A very wise sheep said, “It is just a freak of nature. Once in a while it happens.” And he himself also accepted that it is true. His color is different, his body is different – he must be a freak, abnormal. But the idea that he is a lion was impossible – surrounded by all those sheep! And sheep psychoanalysts gave him explanations: “You are just a freak of nature. Don’t be worried. We are here to take care of you.”
But one day an old lion passed and saw this young lion far above the crowd of sheep. He could not believe his eyes! He had never seen such a thing nor had he ever heard in the history of the whole past – a lion in the middle of a crowd of sheep and no sheep is afraid. And the lion was walking exactly like the sheep, grazing on grass.
The old lion could not believe his eyes. He forgot he was going to catch a sheep for his breakfast – he completely forgot the breakfast. It was something so strange that he tried to catch the young lion. But he was old, and the young lion was young – he ran away. Although he believed that he was a sheep, when there was danger the identification was forgotten. He ran like a lion, and the old lion had great difficulty in catching him. But finally the old lion got hold of him, and he was crying and weeping and saying, “Just forgive me, I am a poor sheep.” The old lion said, “You idiot! You simply stop and come with me to the pond.”
Just nearby there was a pond. He took the young lion there. The young lion was not going willingly; he went reluctantly – but what can you do against a lion if you are only a sheep? He may kill you if you don’t follow him, so he went with him. The pond was silent, with no ripples, almost like a mirror. And the old lion said to the young, “Just look. Look at my face and look at your face. Look at my body and look at your body in the water.”
In a second came a great roar! All the hills echoed it. The sheep disappeared. He was a totally different being – he recognized himself. The identification with sheep was not a reality; it was just a mental concept. Now he had seen the reality, and the old lion said, “Now I don’t have to say anything. You have understood.”
The young lion could feel strange energy he had never felt, as if it had been dormant. He could feel tremendous power, and he had always been a weak, humble sheep. All that humbleness, all that weakness simply evaporated.
This is an ancient parable about the master and the disciple. The function of the master is only to bring the disciple to see who he is and that what he goes on believing is not true.