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This is the account of three lessons which were presented to me during a period of meditation.

The Fisherman

The first lesson was of the archetype of the Fisherman. The fisherman lured in the fish with sweet bait, so sweet that they swam from miles around simply to smell it. The bait was so sweet that they fought among themselves to be the first to grab the bait (and, unknown to them, skewer themselves on the hook). It was as though the fisherman promised the bait as an offering only to those of good taste; and the fish were eager to prove that they were of good taste, that they were capable of appreciating the fisherman’s gift, which hid the hook on which they would be caught. Through pride and greed they spurred themselves forwards to be the successful victim.

And when the hook which lurked behind the sweet tasting bait became visible, the fish had no means of escape, for the fisherman had cast out his net to contain the fish, and restrict where they could move. The fisherman had hemmed in his fish; on one side they were restricted by pride, on the other side by fear of the unknown, on a third side by their own laziness, and on a fourth by their sense of rigid morality. This was a net which surrounded the fish, a net which surrounded them with the knowledge that there was no alternative than to be contained within the net, that there was no means of escape.

And so the net bulged full, and through the weight and size of his catch, he became the wealthiest fisherman.

Through this lesson, I saw that there is strength and power through the accumulation of a large catch, and the means through which such a catch is achieved in the world.

The Farmer

As I meditated further on the archetype of the fisherman, his bulging net of fish became rolling hills, and on these hills grazed sheep. I then learned the second lesson, which was the archetype of the Farmer.

It was clear that this farmer had studied the ways and behaviour of the sheep. He was aware of their every movement, and could understand the path they walked. He had not been too proud to see their ways, to see their concerns, to reach a full understanding of their lives, and how they lived. Through this knowledge, the farmer was able to control his sheep, and knew how best to lead them.

The farmer knew well that if he ran at the sheep flapping his arms, he would look a fool. And so the farmer employed sheepdogs who would chase the sheep, restrict their options, and through fear, force them to move in the directions he required. He knew all too well that the sheep feared pain, pain of all kinds, physical and emotional pain; and also the pain that comes from confronting reality.

But the farmer also knew well that sheep can collapse through fear and fatigue, and was ready to massage the sheep’s egos through wily politeness and respect, through befriending and offering gentle nudges through sugary smiles and promises. Through lies he led, always being sure that he did not lie to himself. And the so the sheep followed through what they thought was their own will, as they lacked the ability to listen to their own will.

Those sheep who had their own will, who would eat differently, and at different times, who would appear individually minded, would be shunned by the flock, and thought dangerous. Here, the farmer picked up the rejected sheep and put him around his shoulder, saying “you are no sheep; you are awake while the others still sleep, and so you have become something greater, more aware than them. You are my brother. (And the farmer was thought strange for seeing a brother where other farmers saw only a sheep; for the blind exist even among farmers, and they could not see that this was no sheep.)

And the farmer also found brothers among those sheep who had fallen on their back, watching them as they failed to return their feet to the ground. These sheep he returned to their feet and said “You are my brother, because the foundations of your world have been ripped apart, and that is why you could not stand. Your reality failed you, and now you will see a new, broader reality. Your world has been destroyed, and you will soon see a thousand new worlds, and in this, you are my brother.”

Through this lesson, I saw the means through which the world leads the sheep, through predicting their patterns of behaviour and concern, and manipulating this knowledge. I also saw the ways in which I could recognise those among the herd who were not of the sheep.

The Wolf

The third lesson came to me a great deal later, and involved much internal struggle. It occurred while I was meditating on the scene of the Farmer herding his flock. Another farmer approached him and sought to shake his hand and embrace him as a brother, but the farmer stood back.

“True, you are a farmer like me, but in being a farmer, you long to steal away my sheep, and in this, you are no brother of mine”.

Following these words, the visiting farmer ripped off his skin, for underneath he was a wolf, and said “You are to be congratulated for seeing my intentions, but it is no matter, for I will eat your sheep anyway.”

With these words, the wolf knocked the farmer to the floor with a vicious strength, and proceeded to tear a sheep apart, delighting as its blood trickled down his muzzle and onto his fur. The farmer, returning to his feet, ran at the wolf, and wrestled with it. He understood the moves of the wolf, and preempted them, for he was wise in the ways of combat. However, the wolf was equally wise, and equally rational as he countered the movements of the farmer. And yet the wolf was stronger, for their was greater strength in his passion to taste the flesh and blood of the sheep than there was of the farmer to protect the sheep, for the farmer was only a simple economist, and truly had no love for the herd with which to parry the wolf’s overwhelming lust.

And so the farmer turned and fled, for he was not too much of a coward to accept failure.

Through this lesson, as the Farmer fled, I saw that there is wisdom in retreating and learning from failure, and building stronger in the knowledge of this failure. But through the ascent of the wolf, I saw the great power that lies in passion. The wolf was a strategic fighter, and used reason in his struggle with the farmer; yet this reason was driven by passion, a passion which could not be matched by the farmer. And so I saw that employment of reason alone is mere game playing, but passion without reason leads to failure through lack of direction. The wolf was victorious because he deployed reason alongside the overwhelming force of passion, which the farmer lacked.

And so, through the net full of fish, the movements of the sheep on the hills, and finally, the passion of the wolf, I, as a dark knight, gained some understanding of how power is woven in this world.

– Richard Francis Irvine