teachings/meanings behind...

Nemean Lion

For those who undertake the work with the Symbol of Life (sometimes called the Christian Cabbala) the first work is to kill the lion of  Nemea, which represents any anger or wrath within us.  This is the first of the 12 Labors of Heracles myth, which turns out to be a metaphor for steps each individual makes on the path of Self Realization.  Every person should be on the watch for anger to rise up and present itself.   And as a Researcher of Truth we are expected not only kill it, but find the causes of our anger, and exterminate those causes. Accepting anger, suppressing anger or expressing anger do nothing to eliminate the causes of anger.

To engage in this labor we need to create with Visualization a space-place in which to work.  So with visualization we construct the idea of a space and a place.  We create an environment in our mind in which we see the labor of Hercules killing the lion play out.  But we must create this environment in as much detail as possible, which in the beginning you may find difficult.   But with the help our Divine nature of  Observation.   We need to get the habit of observing and seeing everything.  And we start this practice in by observing our home life, our work life and our relationships with those around us.

The story is that the Nemean lion was a huge, ferocious beast that killed and ate the people of Nemea.   It was so terrifying that even its roar scared the people and paralyzed them with fear.   So King Eurystheus ordered Hercules to kill the lion and bring him the head and skin. But this was no ordinary lion.  Hercules could not kill it with his big club. It was so powerful that no arrow, spear or weapon could penetrate its skin while it was alive.  Now here is the practice.   Either sitting up or lying down, get very comfortable and completely relaxed.   There should be no tension in any part of your body.   Then you must calm your feelings and thoughts and start breathing deeply and rhythmically in the way we have instructed before. Now you enter the visualized environment of this labor and begin the meditation.  This exercise is the first of twelve steps, twelve labors from center number ten at the base of the spine toward center number eight over the liver in the Symbol of Life. 

Now from a place of deep peace, clearly construct a tropical jungle in your mind.  You see large trees, bushes, running water, rocks and so on.  Everything you expect to see in a tropical jungle. And you see yourself moving in the jungle scene. Soon you see a roaring lion enter the scene.   See the whole setting in as much detail as possible.   And then you visualize Hercules strangling the lion, depriving it of the breath of life, until it dies. 

Now you visualize a new scene a place that you already know very well. In that place you see people moving here and there. Now in your mind’s eye you will see someone you do not know entering the scene that is in a rage of anger.  You see them screaming, threatening, attacking and maybe even killing.    But never, ever, ever visualize someone you know doing this.

Now you are seeing just what the anger of lion can do.   To study all of the causes and effects of anger requires deep meditation and visualization over time.  We should continue this line of study until we have detected all the possible reasons and ways anger can be incited in a person.

But here is a warning.  Sometimes… oftentimes the lion of anger is sleeping in us and so we do not think we have much anger. However, when our circumstances change and when we are challenged that slumbering lion can wake up.  

So we must kill this monster in us.  We ourselves must use our real will power to strangle the lion of anger within.   This means that no matter what the provocation we may face, the seeker of truth must not let anger be expressed through his personality.

Now in this myth Hercules strangles the lion to death and then cuts its head off and then places it on his head.  The symbolic reason for this action is that cunning people must not know that a seeker of truth is harmless. This is because there are opportunists around us that cunningly might try to take advantage of our harmlessness. In this case it is ok to raise the tone of your voice but under no conditions should we lose control of our emotions and release the lion of anger.  

This part of the story means that after we kill anger in us we have to sometimes symbolically dress in the skin and head of the lion so that others will not take advantage of the quite mind and loving heart of a seeker of truth. When we put on the skin and head, others can see the teeth of the dead lion but the head of a dead lion cannot bite others.  This is the real point.

So we find great teachings and practical guidance hidden in the metaphoric myth of the Twelve Labors of Heracles.The purpose of the teachers who created these myths for the Greco-Egyptian Mystery Schools was to show us the way towards enlightenment and Self Realization and not just to create imaginary children’s stories