As a child, I loved Panchtantra stories, but I had no idea that they impart such valuable lessons regarding emotions. Let me share a famous story, ‘The Lion and the Rabbit’ to describe the wisdom of emotions.
The jungle animals made a bargain with their ferocious king, the Lion, who used to kill for pleasure. It was agreed that one animal would present itself every day, at Lion’s den to be his supper and, in turn, the Lion would never hunt again. The Lion liked not having to earn his food, and animals preferred the certainty offered by this system.
One day, it was the rabbit’s turn to be the Lion’s meal. He bid goodbye to his family and friends started walking towards his fate. He walked very slow. He knew that the Lion was expecting him and maybe furious about the delay but he did not bother picking up pace.
“Why are you late?” the Lion roared when the rabbit arrived.
“I’m late because of the other lion,” said the rabbit.
“In my jungle? There is no other lion in my jungle”.
“But there is!” the rabbit said. “He stopped me, and he was going to kill me. But I told him that I am committed to you as your food today. He made fun of you and said what kind of a lion is this who waits for his food rather than hunting for it. He called you a coward. I somehow ran and saved my life. I have come to you as soon as I could, my king!”
The Lion got very angry and said, “Take me to this other lion.”
The rabbit led the Lion to a deep well and told him to look in. The Lion saw his own reflection in the water and roared! The sound of his roar bounced right back at him as an echo.
“I am the king of this jungle,” he roared again.
His echo answered him, “I am the king of this jungle.”
With that, the Lion became enraged and jumped into the deep well with a splash! The Lion attacked his own reflection and was never heard from again.
What were the emotions of the rabbit when he was so close to his death? What were the emotions of the Lion while he was waiting for his yummy food? Despite the fear, the rabbit could come up with a strategy to save his life. Despite the pride, the valor, and the confidence, the Lion made a fool of himself and died.
What does this tell us about emotions? No emotion is good or bad. Emotions are calls to action. Managing emotions means adopting strategies to use them effectively rather than letting them govern our behavior and actions. Emotions are our natural guidance system, and they are more effective when we do not fight them.