The Lions We Make


An old tale from ancient India, which I discovered in The Wounded Healer* by Henri J.M. Nouwen:

Four royal sons were questioning what specialty they should master. They said to one another, "Let us search the earth and learn a special science." So they decided, and after they had agreed on a place where they would meet again, the four brothers started off, each in a different direction. Time went by, and the brothers met again at the appropriate meeting place, and they asked one another hat they had learned. "I have mastered a science," said the first, "which makes it possible for me, if I have nothing but a piece of bone of some creature, to create straightway the flesh that goes with it." "I," said the second, "know how to grow that creature's skin and hair if there is flesh on its bones." The third said, "I am able to create its limbs if I have the flesh, the skin, and the hair." "And I," concluded the fourth, "know how to give life to that creature if its form is complete with limbs." 

Thereupon the four brothers went into the jungle to find a piece of bone so that they could demonstrate their specialities. As fate would have it, the bone they found was a lion's, but they did not know that and picked up the bone. 

The story unfolds, and each performed his science, and the lion sprung to life, shook its mane and devoured them all.

Debt is our lion.

Social media is our lion.

Luxury living we cannot afford is our lion.

Lions are not all bad. Just know what you're signing up for.

The machines we make end up controlling us. Better to be a royal child and enjoy life as it is than to search the world for that which will only devour the soul.

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? (Jesus, Mt. 16:26).

*Nouwen sourced this tale from Tales of Ancient India, translated from the Sanskrit by J.A.B. van Buitenen (New York: Bantam Books, 1961), pp. 50-51.

Tommy BrownComment