|The tiger is a common symbol in Buddhism. I took the picture below in a Tibetan monastery. It was a door painting. The tiger can have multiple meanings and is a central character in many stories.
One of my favorites is about three brothers who are walking through the forest. It is a time of famine and drought and they are looking for work. In the mountains they come upon a tiger who is starving and is about to eat her children. This is tragic, but there is nothing they can do, so they walk on. When they stop to rest, one of the brothers leaves quietly, without telling his brothers where he is going, and returns to the tiger. He climbs a great cliff above her, takes off his clothes and throws himself down before her. She is too weak to make the effort to eat him. He struggles up to the top of the cliff again, but this time stabs himself before he leaps. The tigress is able to drink his blood and regain her strength and save her cubs. Later, his two brothers return and find only their brother's bones. It is a story of great compassion for all living creatures. No one life is so important that it cannot be given for another.
Last update: November 2009
© Marilyn Shea, 2009