Taming the Tiger
The transition from Back to Beginnings to Taming the Tiger is the point at which we learn to take a stand in the present moment, learning how to live facing the future and seeing a memory as another type of thought.
The emphasis in Taming the Tiger is on deepening one's understanding of the mind and its role in creating our present experiencing. This work is achieved through an exploration and practice of a series of meditation / visualisation exercises which are all contained in the book Taming the Tiger by Akong Tulku Rinpoche.
The image of the tiger is a powerful one and is used metaphorically in the work we do here. An untamed tiger can wreak havoc if it is let loose, randomly striking where we are least prepared. Similarly the angry or jealous mind which is untamed can cause serious harm. We are all familiar with the inner and outer disquiet caused by the most difficult aspects of ourselves.
Yet the approach one takes towards the untamed tiger is important. The skilled tamer knows that unlike other animals, the tiger cannot be frightened into submission. The tamer must first come to know the tiger's habits and tendencies and then win the confidence of the tiger to gain its cooperation. While this work requires diligence and effort, there is also a lot of patience and gentleness involved. Similarly working on ourselves involves coming to know and understand how our mind operates, along with all its inclinations.
In Back to Beginnings, which is the previous phase of the therapy, we have already begun this process of exploration. Through the review of one's own life story we learn to become compassionate observers of our habitual patterns. Holding up a mirror to ourselves can at times be painful. We might have spent a great deal of our lives trying to escape looking at who we really are. Yet the process of identifying these inclinations is what makes them possible to work with. So rather than being pulled along by the force of habit we gradually develop more choice and are freer to decide which thoughts and courses of action we wish to follow.
The methods used in Taming the Tiger assist in a deeper cultivation of calmness and mental stability. Sitting meditation is introduced with guidance on posture and methods. The practice of meditation, as taught here, is also used to inquire into how the mind functions and this brings with it an increased awareness of the essentially insubstantial and temporary nature of all that we experience mentally. Tendencies of the mind to project inner assumptions and understandings onto external phenomena are explored in depth. A range of meditation practices are given that place emphasis on opening up to a more compassionate understanding both of oneself and others.