The Dream Tiger

Several decades ago, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi gave the following comment (paraphrased here) on one of my courses:  “If a person has a dream that a tiger is chasing him, it doesn’t help him at all that under his pillow he has a gun.  A waking-state gun is no protection against a dream-state tiger.  Likewise, if a real tiger is attacking, it doesn’t help that in one’s dream, one has a gun.” Mahesh was trying to illustrate his teaching that what applies in one state of consciousness cannot automatically be transferred to another state of consciousness.

Of course we students already knew a lot about waking and dreaming.  In this lecture, he was attempting to explain three additional states of consciousness to us.  He had told us that if we practiced TM regularly, enlightenment awaited us.  In succession, we would attain “Cosmic Consciousness,” then “God Consciousness” and then “Unity Consciousness.”  (Historical note:  He later changed the name from “God Consciousness” to “Glorified Cosmic Consciousness.”)   These, he said, were increasingly advanced states of “enlightenment.”  He was using the tiger metaphor to explain that we shouldn’t even bother planning for what we would do once we were enlightened, since once we were in that state, our experience of reality would change so much.

He never said it outright, but we all believed that he was in Unity Consciousness.  (Historical note:   When he announced a few years later that there was a state above Unity Consciousness, called “Brahman Consciousness,” we all believed that he was at least in that state.)  I’m thinking over his tiger illustration now, and I wonder if he was not only telling us not to make plans for ourselves in “higher” states, but also that he was in such an exalted state himself that we were in no position to pass judgment on his actions.  That’s one of the messages I took away from his lecture.  That anything he did, we should probably believe and obey, because he had a different, higher way of looking at the world.

Did you believe that we should not judge Mahesh according to the rules that the rest of us live by?  Was there ever a time when he did something that you felt critical of, and then reminded yourself, “We can’t judge Mahesh by our standards”?     

“The Dream Tiger”