The Lion’s Gaze

There is an ancient fable from Terma in which Padmasambhava, a literary character, appears before a Terton and teaches him how to better focus his emotions. Padmasambhava says that when a stick is thrown to a dog, the dog will chase the stick. Yet when you throw a stick to a lion, the lion chases you. A dog’s gaze will always follow the object: the stick. The lion gazes steadily at the source: the thrower.

Yep, that’s right. After a brief absence from this site I’ve returned to drop some obscure philosophy served with a side of self-indulgence on you that’s sure to leave you scratching your head wondering why the hell you’re even reading it.

But hear me out. Open your mind and be prepared to look beyond the stick and instead focus on what is really important: the thrower, and why they tossed it in the first place.

The stick is a distraction; a frivolous entity designed to draw your attention away from your heart’s true desire. Yet so many of us chase the damn thing every fucking time that it’s thrown, diligently returning it to its owner, only for them to hurl it in a different direction. So many of us are as loyal as a hound, and that loyalty ultimately becomes our undoing. We play according to the rules of men and women distracting us with a petty game of fetch, when all we really want is for them to treat us as equals or allow us the opportunity to blossom.

A lot of people have been commenting on how quickly this site has grown over the past few months. Your writing has improved! Your followers have exploded! You seem so much happier in your work! All of which are true. I’ve put in a lot of hard work into what I am producing and amassed numerous sleepless nights as I’ve toiled away at my writing. It hasn’t been easy, and at times I’ve wondered why I chose to enter such a fickle industry. Yet when people ask me what inspired the metamorphosis between the boy I was eighteen months ago and the man I am today, I’ve struggled to answer.

            I’ve learned to silence my ego. I say. I’ve let go of my hate.

I haven’t though. I’m still the perpetually frustrated mind I was back when I was producing endless streams of whiney bullshit to a lackluster audience. And I’m still arrogant as sin. I don’t understand humanity, and I struggle to tolerate much of popular culture. Yet I have grown. And I have improved. But I’ve never really understood what changed inside of me that allowed me to become someone with a published novel and a chance to actually carve my name in the walls of the literary industry.

Until I learned about the lion’s gaze.

When I first told myself that I was going to become a writer I did what most people do. I dove headfirst into an industry that I didn’t really understand and started fetching sticks, wrestling them from the mouths of other like-minded authors and presenting them to literary masters. Get and editor they’d say. So I did. Tone down the violence. I obeyed. Jump through this hoop. Sit. Roll over. Play dead. I’d bow down at their feet and do anything that I could just to capture the attention of the industry. But the industry itself was merely throwing sticks into a field to keep me occupied.

The problem with trying to earn the respect of someone or something in this manner is sooner or later they are chucking more sticks then you can ever hope to fetch. You become confused, unsure what direction you should follow, or what branches are worth retrieving. Soon that confusion festers and becomes anger. You’re tired. You’re bitter. You dream of success and of lashing out to bite the hand that feeds. You become so caught up in playing games of fetch that you just end up chasing your tail around in circles.

But you don’t have to hunt distractions. It took me a long time to learn this but it’s ultimately true. The difference between the shitty little blog that I ran eighteen months ago and Renegade Press is that I learned to ignore disruption and interference, stop chasing sticks and do what I want to do: write fucking entertaining posts that capture the imagination of my readership. I’ve let go of comparing myself to the works of others, I’ve turned my back on purposely trying to cultivate ‘confronting’ pieces, and I’ve allowed my work the opportunity to be judged based solely on its merit.

It’s been a sharp learning curve, and at times when I’ve felt my confidence falter it has taken all my strength not to start playing fetch and conforming to the whims of others once again. To help me through I created foundations of strength through my wolf and world eater monikers, but never once have I taken my eyes off of my ultimate goal: to write damn good literature.

When you understand what your heart truly desires you have to learn how to develop a lion’s gaze. You have to teach yourself to ignore the distractions that life throws at you and never allow yourself to lose sight of your dream. You may dream of being a writer like me. You may aspire to be a parent, or a lover, an artist, lawyer, doctor, or poet. The dream itself can be anything. But that fire, and that intestinal fortitude to never lose focus even when times get tough is what ultimately allows us to grow and achieve.

When Padmasambhava, appeared before the Terton he taught him that the slightest shift in perspective can change the world. When I stopped focusing on chasing down frivolous exploits or competing with others and focused instead becoming a better writer, I altered the course of my life and found success.

Now it’s your turn. Take a moment and ask yourself if you were to shift your perspectives away from the unimportant and block out all distraction, where would your lion’s gaze be focused?

What could you achieve?

Why the hell are you still chasing sticks?

Author: Chris Nicholas

Chris Nicholas is an author from Brisbane, Australia. He has published two novels, and is currently working on his third.

75 thoughts on “The Lion’s Gaze”

  1. Thank you for really thought-provoking piece Chris. As you say, this can apply to any goal we’re chasing. I love the analogy of the lion’s gaze. Great stuff!! Chevvy

  2. Truthful words. Life is ultimately about doing what you love not pleasing others. Love the analogy of the lion’s gaze though. It just breathes decisiveness, determination and courage.

  3. Good for you lion gazer 🙂 You figured out the simple truth that takes so many a lifetime. Now if you can figure out how to be the lion and the lion tamer as well…

  4. I think I don’t trust myself to stop chasing sticks and figure out who’s doing the throwing. Or to distinguish the sticks from what I really want in life. Wait, in this metaphor am I a lion seeking to attack a human and devour them? hmm…

  5. I love coincidence. I love serendipity…and I saw this piece in a way that describes how I feel about my writing just about these past few weeks. Just wonderful. Thank you for writing your heart out.

  6. Oh god…. Don’t tell my husband but this post made me cum a little. LOL. So, elegantly written without the use of too many flowery words like most people who try to “sound good” in their writing.
    And he message had such perfect timing in my life. I had never heard of the lion’s gaze philosophy before and I’m glad I didn’t because I don’t think any previous version of myself would ever have gotten out of this as much as I have.
    Thank you so much for sharing. You’ve gained yourself yet another loyal follower.

  7. Hi Thanks for dropping by at my blog. I enjoyed your philosophical post…and that you’re feeling yourself improve your writerly muscles. It’s reassuring, isn’t it, to write as you put it ‘damn good literature.’ Keep on keeping on.

  8. Thank you so much for this wonderful and thoughtful writing. You won’t believe I was going to write about following my passion and how I felt I am losing hold of my passion because of what you rightly called as “distractions”, the stick that people throw for you to fetch. What you write really helped my put it in perspective!

    Thank you!

  9. Hehe. Not chasing anything, not competing with others, not cultivating conflicting pieces (I knew it! This is sold as advice on how to garner attention. So sick.), no swearing so much either – as for entertaining posts… hmmm I’ll leave that up to you. Sounds like work 😀

    Now seriously – I’m happy for you and your found gaze.

  10. Inspiring! Never let anyone or anything stop you from realizing your dreams. If I had let the negative comments and fear stop me from publishing my books, I wouldn’t have 8 published works today. They aren’t well-known books, but I don’t care. I am a better writer than I was ten years ago, and I have accomplished something amazing.
    Thank you for reminding me to keep my eye on the prize!

  11. This was such a helpful post to me, and came at just the right time. I’m facing some major changes in work, which are opening the door for me to possibly dive into really pursuing writing for the first time in my life. Your analogy of not chasing sticks is valuable, and I will be keeping it in mind as I try to figure out my next steps. Thanks.

  12. This is an interesting angle. It really makes you think about what your passions are and obstacles that there are at times. Very deep

  13. Sticks are an easy escape. To fight for a goal and achieve the dream takes way too much time and consistency. Human nature is fickle till it’s met with self manifested pressure, a need to create a new way and escape what we’ve been so used to and ok with. The sticks right there for the taking, many far beyond the point of taming.

  14. My gaze would be laser focused on the stigma attached to mental illness. My need to help others has lead me to look in the mirror…my lion’s gaze has definitely been staring at itself lately. In my dreams ( where my inner lion currently resides) I dedicate my life to giving a voice to the underdog. We live in a world where the keyboard is mightier than the sword and if wielded properly, can make a positive difference in the world. All the negativity that currently exists in the world is a huge cry for help. We can connect with one another faster than ever…a blessing and a curse…all I can hope for at this point is that people will think before they type. We’re humans in a tech world threatening to reduce us to an automaton if we continue to think we’re invincible just because we are behind a computer screen. To me, that’s the real mental illness…we use our brains less and less everyday…technology has given us everything under the sun to do all that silly thinking for us…my lion’s gaze wants to stay focused on humanity, the 5 senses, on our hearts and souls. We need to preserve this. Thank you so much for making me think Chris lol I wasn’t expecting to write this much lol and now I’m going to share 🙂

  15. Reblogged this on MainelyButch: Private Label and commented:
    A very good read….and I quote: “The problem with trying to earn the respect of someone or something in this manner is sooner or later they are chucking more sticks then you can ever hope to fetch. You become confused, unsure what direction you should follow, or what branches are worth retrieving. Soon that confusion festers and becomes anger. You’re tired. You’re bitter. You dream of success and of lashing out to bite the hand that feeds. You become so caught up in playing games of fetch that you just end up chasing your tail around in circles.”

  16. Loved this post. I’ve struggled for years with not chasing the stick. It’s been getting better. Hope I can altogether soon.
    Keep on writing. You are good at it.

  17. great post…I have never been a stick chaser…I love your analogy…I am glad you are able to focus more on what’s important to you, and you should never, never worry about what anyone else is doing in comparison to where you are….I enjoy reading your post….they are real and I feel your emotions coming through your words….keep the lion alive and craving…nothing wrong with that….kat

  18. That was a very interesting post and — excuse me a second (pant, pant, pant) — something I’ll have to — hold on (pant pant pant) — think about when I get a break from all this stick chasing.

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