Are You a Bear or an Eagle?

Sometimes when my wife and I have conversations in public, it looks like the scene from the movie Dogma where Loki and Bartleby walk through the airport talking about their previous exploits as angels. We often look around at all the sleeping people in the world, noting that they barely register as conscious beings. They go through their lives working meaningless jobs, enduring unfulfilling relationships, and drugging themselves to avoid facing their unfaceable fears. Their conversations are nothing but trivialities in the grand scheme of things.

Whenever we meet someone new, one of the first questions that goes through our minds is, “Is this person awake yet?” The vast majority of people are still asleep, meaning that they aren’t really conscious and aware of what their lives are all about, why they’re here, or what their purpose is. You can easily identify such people simply by asking them, “Why are you here on earth at this time?” These bears — we call the sleepers bears because they’re still hibernating — can’t answer this question intelligently because it’s outside their normal mode of thinking. But conscious people (and those who are becoming conscious) will consider the question truly important and will be able to provide an intelligent answer, even if it isn’t fully formed yet. I think of the conscious people as eagles because they have huge eyes and soar above the terrain, taking everything in and being able to see clearly over a distance.

One cool effect I’ve noticed is that if we get a bear alone with us, we can sometimes temporarily elevate the bear to the status of hatchling eagle. Those make for some interesting conversations — it’s a real delight to raise a bear’s awareness to the point where they can discuss the sky. But until the bear has summoned the courage to go through the life lessons required to truly awaken, this elevation is unstable. Bears don’t like flying very much, and they can’t focus on the sky for too long without feeling an intensifying urge to either run back into their cave or to bite your arm off. Still… it’s fun while it lasts.

Unfortunately, some bears are so deep in their caves that we can’t gently penetrate their slumber. In truth they’re so paralyzed by fear that they can’t summon even a modicum of courage to face it. These are the bears that will vehemently deny the existence of anything outside the cave. You can still wake such a bear up by dragging it out of the cave by force and pulling it into the light, but that’s very dangerous work, and it takes some skill to be able to safely handle such an angry bear. But anger is a positive step away from fear and towards awakening, so despite the negative emotions, this is the fast track to train a snoozing bear into an eagle.

It’s a strange process to coax a bear out of its cave and show it what the sky looks like. Many bears don’t like this at all, and they will ferociously attack anyone that disturbs their slumber. Every week some bears get really pissed at me for disturbing their sleep. Since bears are afraid to fly, they don’t like being reminded of the existence of the sky or that some of their brother bears have left the bear cave to become eagles. These are facts that stubborn bears do not want to face, since it means admitting to themselves that they could have been living as an eagle all along instead of spending their whole lives in a cave.

Needless to say, the bears have long since voted me out of their cave, but I’m still able to sneak in by wearing a bear costume now and then. This is effective as long as I keep my mouth shut, since even bears will recognize that I don’t sound much like a bear. Sometimes I just can’t resist though — I admit that my favorite form of amusement involves taking a box of fireworks and a blowtorch into a bear cave. You haven’t really lived until you’ve seen how the bears react to this.

Fortunately some bears, upon first being shown the sky and meeting other eagles, find it an awesome and enlightening experience. These are the bears that are ready to train up to eagle. They’ve grown bored with cave life, perhaps even depressed about it. They find no more joy in the cave, but they’re not sure where else to go, since the cave is all they’ve ever known, and other bears seem to be OK with it. With some prodding these bears are ready to admit that cave jobs are pointless in the grand scheme of things, relationships with other bears are shallow and unfulfilling, and getting stuck in bear traps really hurts. While they still look like bears on the outside and other bears treat them as one of their own, on the inside they begin to feel very un-bearlike.

Unfortunately, since bears so vastly outnumber eagles, it’s hard for a bear to understand what’s going on when he starts to wake up. The bear may experience a sense of malaise, feeling very unmotivated to do the things that other bears seem to enjoy. He may turn to other bears for help, but none of the bear solutions work very well. In the long run, things only get worse, and the bear feels more and more disconnected from his world — the only world he knows. I have a lot of compassion for such bears; the process of awakening is not an easy one.

Eagles, however, are trained to recognize these awakening bears, and such bears will feel naturally drawn to eagles (even though their fellow bears will warn them not to do this, since other bears that have gone to see the eagles have been permanently changed and can barely function as proper bears now). On this path the bear will meet great new challenges, many of which will be very difficult to face, but the bear will ultimately find deep fulfillment on this path. During a few years of training, the bear may straddle both worlds, sometimes living as a bear and other times as an eagle and never quite fitting in either world. This can be very confusing to the bear, but if the bear sticks with it, he’ll eventually leave the bear world behind and join the eagles. With the eagles the bear will feel very much at home.

As a bear trainer, I’ve been mauled more than a few times, but it’s easily worth it for the chance to get another bear started on the path to eagle. This world has far too many bears as it is, and the mess from their caves is beginning to stink up the entire forest. But the cool thing is that once one bear trains up to eagle, that bear can then go out and train other bears into eagles. Lately I’ve been noticing more and more eagles in the sky, so I think the effect is beginning to accelerate. I think most of the bear leaders are still oblivious to what’s happening, but it probably won’t be long before they begin noticing that more and more of their bears are leaving the caves and never coming back. Meanwhile, the eagles are stockpiling fireworks.