Tigers and Dragons?

Credit for this gem goes to Mr Jeremy Shafer, instructions here…

The highest mountains are the abode of the lions;
In the deepest waters the dragons dwell.

This quote is used in Lions Gate Buddhist Priory website banner.

I once told Rev. Master Jiyu I’d spent some time sitting on top of a Tor on Dartmoor, in the South West of England, while over visiting my parents. She responded in a low voice, You like high places don’t you Mugo. I smiled in recognition.

In one of our scripturesit’s written: If you become thus utterly free you will be as the water wherein the dragon dwells or as the mountain whereon the tiger roams.

The Dragon, our fundamental nature is represented, and known within our ‘depths’. The Tiger, our embodied nature as enlightened beings (Buddha Nature) roams freely and is given expression through our daily actions.  Informed by our personal moral and ethical intent, obviously.

Tiger is fierce
moving gracefully aware
appropriate to circumstances

The Dragon fierce
rises up within faith
unites with the Tiger.


In a different scripture: O sincere trainees, do not doubt the true dragon, do not spend so much time in rubbing only a part of the elephant. Not doubting, engendering faith. While embodying the ‘dragon’ reflexive action, is our lived life.

NOTE:This quote is also pointing to the importance of not dwell mentally and emotionally, overly long, anywhere. And especially not dwelling in uncomfortable ‘places’. Or comfortable places either!

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8 thoughts on “Tigers and Dragons?”

  1. Thank you, Rev. Mugo. I’ve come to know those words, from The Most Excellent Mirror Samhadi well, in the sense of repeating them often, during the pandemic, through precenting the scriptures online and now back in person, at the priory. They pierce through to the heart of things, don’t they? There is a line, from the poem ‘On the Move’ by Thom Gunn, that finishes, ‘One is always nearer by not keeping still.’ I always felt that this was at odds with what we do – our practice is stillness, after all – but in this sense, in the sense of not staying with comfort or discomfort for very long, I guess he is right. _/\_

    1. Gosh! I’ll have to change the reference. Thanks. Lots to say about stillness in activity….Oh, you have me thinking on the next post. Thanks as ever.

  2. Dear Rev Mugo,
    “If you become thus utterly free you will be as the water wherein the dragon dwells or as the mountain whereon the tiger roams.”

    I was always fascinated by those lines; and to me they suggested that if we can practice well, we come to identify more with the water than with the dragon, and more with the mountain than with the tiger. Is this a valid way to understand them?

    1. Thanks Mark. I have always wondered about this and I am in the process of asking around the seniors. People come up with such different explanations! Ill write a ‘mash up’ when I’ve talked to enough people.

      I steer away from anything that has a hint of evaluating training, either of oneself or of others. We live on shifting sand, constantly changing, moment to moment. As far as I am concerned the ‘water’ and the ‘mountains’ are constants within the flux but don’t ask me to define what they are. Beyond words basically, and I know you know that.

      If what you have written has meaning to you – it is valid. As long as you know that it is impossible to know in an evaluative way. I hope you get my drift.

      1. Rev Mugo – thanks for your comments.
        Not so well put by me, perhaps. How about: As we practice, our awareness comes to encompass the water as well as the dragon; the mountain as well as the tiger?

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