The Mountain Lion

by James Clair Lewis

It was in the Winter of 1976, on my hitch hiking journey across America, without any money, and with my long hair. I took the Southern route to avoid getting caught in a snowstorm, and I can't say that I got many rides. Mostly I walked, which is why it took some three months to get from Boston to California.

When I got to Arizona, I was on Route 10, and no one gave me a ride in that state. So I crossed the desert entirely on foot, and quickly figured out that the best thing to do, was to hide from the heat and Sun during the day, and to do the walking at night. It was the morning when I crawled out of my sleeping bag, finding it covered with frost, that convinced me. Later on that day, it must have been around 100 degrees...

If you read Wanderer in the Wasteland by Zane Grey, you'll get a very good idea of what this was like!

One day I came upon a cliff overlooking a deep canyon. There was an updraft of cool air from the bottom, some 400 feet below. So I chose this spot to cool off, and meditate, looking out across the panorama before me. The Earth fashions places like this to give a Message, but it is far too profound to put into words. You simply have to Be there, and then you will know...

I like to sit in Rock posture, rather than Lotus. I find it more comfortable, and it is much easier to stand up when you get out of it. After an hour or two of being in this place which somehow stands out beyond time, I heard a noise behind me. Lifting myself up by my hands, I turned around to see what it was.

Before me there was a Mountain Lion, and she was poised to spring. I knew that if she did that, that we both would have plunged over the cliff to our deaths far below at the bottom of the canyon, because I am not a pacifist, and no one is taking me out, without going with me.

Not having anything like a weapon, besides a Swiss Army knife, I decided to use my brains. Standing up would have provoked the big cat to spring, and I didn't want that. So I raised my hands up, curling the fingers & thumbs into the Mudra of Benediction. Then I chanted, "AUM", with a full, loud, resonant voice. At this the Mountain Lion first registered some concern, thinking perhaps that I wasn't alone out there. Then she sat down on her hind legs, looking directly into my eyes.

We gazed into each other for some five minutes. She saw that I held no fear, and also that I held respect for her as a fellow creature of the Earth. Then she got up and walked away, looking for somebody else to eat. I am glad that the Mountain Lion understood that it is impolite to eat your meditation partner.

I believe that the Native People have a saying : "It is a good day to die, and a good day to live." Fear neither possibility. I'll leave you with that...

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