To Herd or Not to Herd


For the Sake of the Master

The Humble Shepherd, Hidden Master, Warrior Monk, Noble Samurai… How do we relate to them and to the Archetype of the Magician?

It’s a Dog Eat Dog World

The sheep dog, the Border collie, Australian shepherd, Hungarian Puli…these are the breeds of herding dogs. And if you ever speak to someone who has owned such a breed, they will tell you that left to their own devices these dogs will herd anything. Stuffed animals, guests at a dinner party. A herding dog’s instinct is so strong, that if it sees its environment in disarray it feels uncomfortable, anxious:

“Something’s just not right…I have to bring order to this chaos…these people are all over the place!” Actually, that’s a little sophisticated for a dog. “I’ll put things right…I’ll sort it out…I’ll set ‘em straight!” That’s more like it.

These types of dogs somehow just cannot just relax and be comfortable unless they’re exercising their herding instinct. Of course! It’s in their nature to herd sheep. They were born to herd sheep. It’s in their blood. It’s who they are. Like many dogs who were bred, trained, conditioned and rewarded over many generations to perform their specific job, sheep herding dogs do so in an absolute way. They’re hardwired, “always on.” They herd automatically, even if there are no sheep around! They find “sheep.”

Some of us are like that. We are born to herd sheep. We are born into families and are confused, anxious, uncomfortable with all the chaos of family life: the disagreements, the arguments, the fights, the dysfunctionality which prevails in so many families. We think: I can bring order to this chaos. We go to school and are alarmed and feel hurt by the chaos of the classroom: the clique’s, the bullying, the rules and the breaking of rules. We think: I can bring order to this chaos. We go out into the world, especially in this day and age and we think: I will bring order to this chaos.

But it doesn’t have to be so lofty. We may not be out to change the world. We may be merely reacting to our immediate circumstances. “This isn’t right! That’s just not fair! This person is such an idiot! I can’t believe they’re doing that!…I’ll put things right…I’ll sort it out…I’ll set ‘em straight!”

But there is a problem: we see others as sheep and ourselves as shepherds. In fact, we are just dogs

Snarling, slobbering, barking, snapping…we become in the eyes of sheep wolves: ferocious, relentless, tenacious, exhausting. The sheep, the stuff animals, the people at the dinner party, they are just doing what comes naturally to them…they just want to be, and be left alone. But the sheep dog can’t abide that, somehow…the sheepdog must herd…the sheepdog was made to herd…the sheepdog must set ‘em straight!

We can see a real problem here. And, we see how much suffering such an animal would endure facing a world that does not want to be treated like sheep (despite the fact that most behave like sheep most of the time.  Still, sheep resist. The more you try to herd them, the more they resist being herded. The more they resist being herded, the more the sheep dog persists in trying to herd them. We bark louder and louder, and their indifference to our efforts and/or outright ignorance taunts us…angers, frustrates, enrages us.

“Don’t they know a storm’s coming!? Can’t they see the wolves, eagles and cougars are picking them off one by one!? Don’t you want to be safe and secure in the warmth of the barn of the Master!?” But they are sheep. And sheep are basically stupid. Sheep do what sheep do, and that’s all they know and all they want to do. But we sheep herders can’t accept that. We somehow can’t see that. We are blinded, if you will, by our own breeding, instincts, training, conditioning…an obsession with our “mission in life” or just our simple self-righteousness in the here and now: to set ‘em straight…to herd sheep!

“It’s obvious we were born to be sheep dogs! Otherwise, why would we have these deeply rooted instincts to herd sheep!?”

But what if we are wrong.

Doesn’t every Dog need a Master?   

Sheep dogs are bred, born, trained, conditioned and live to serve the Shepherd. The Shepherd is the one who decides where the sheep should go and when. The Shepherd leads His flock of sheep—which are stupid, mechanical, do what they do—for one purpose: to be sheared. The sheep hold the wool. The wool is very valuable to the Shepherd.

The Shepherd uses His crooked staff and secret calls to His dogs to direct them to herd the sheep. The Shepherd cannot herd sheep without His crooked shepherd’s staff and His dogs. Have you ever seen Border collies work? Their attention is laser-pointed focused concentration. Their awareness of the Master’s gestures, calls, etc. is absolute; so too is their awareness of the herd: every sheep, every straggler.  Their patience and self-control are impressive. Left to their own devices they would be all over those sheep…barking and biting and doing what sheep dogs do to get those sheep in line. But when the Master is there they watch and they wait…patient and relaxed. And when they “hear the call” they leap into action without hesitation: relentless, tenacious. The sheep have no chance but to comply. “The Master has spoken, the will of the Master must be done…we sheep dogs must bring you sheep into order for the sake of the Master.”

The Shepherd's Tools: Shepherd’s Crook and Sheep Dog

The Shepherd’s Tools: Shepherd’s Crook and Sheep Dog

But this is not the whole story.

Sheer Will and the Shearing of Wool

The Master needs His staff in hand and dogs under control to herd the sheep to the shearing. The sheep hold the wool, and the Master must take each sheep on His knee and carefully sheer its wool. Thoroughly. “Comprehensively.” Every aspect of each sheep must be sheared for every fibre of wool possible. Why? Why is it so precious, this wool? Well, let’s look at what is done with it, and by whom.

The Shepherd has a Wife, you see. The Shepherd’s Wife works tirelessly at the wheel and the loom. She is a Master at weaving and knitting, and is able to make beautiful garments from wool. Garments which sooth and comfort, but sometimes can feel a little irritating to the skin as we are…irritable.

But let us turn our thoughts to that most precious and wonderful (magical, even) variety of wool: Merino wool.

Merino wool repels rain, shades from the sun. It is resistant to mold, mildew and bacteria. Its antiseptic qualities mean you can wear merino wool for days and days without washing and it will have no odor. Merino wool miraculously cools us when it is too hot, and warms us when it is too cold. Clothes that are made with Merino wool temper us, soothe us, comfort us in a way few other materials can. And somehow, wearing them, we are protected from the elements and others are protected from our foul-smelling odors. Garments made from this natural fibre come only through the labours of The Shepherd and His Shepherdess…and through the unquestioned attentiveness and obedience of their dogs.

The sheep? The sheep are not outside of us. The sheep are within.

It is our sheep which we must be concerned with…we must serve the Master and concern ourselves with the Master’s sheep only. But without the Master, we run off over hell’s half-acre concerning ourselves altogether too much with other’s animals. And of course, it is not too long before the farmers get frustrated and complain, “keep these goddam dogs away from my animals! Don’t they have their own sheep to worry about!?”

But if we dogs obey our Master, and we sheep dogs concern ourselves with serving our Master and Mistress, we will have precious garments made with Merino wool to show for it.

And when it is cold and raining and the farmer complains “I am soaked to the bone and freezing cold!” The Shepherd will say to him, “my dear friend, I am warm and dry.” And when it is hot and the farmers’ wives complain “my husband is all sweaty and smelly!” The Shepherdess will say “my husband is cool and does not stink.” And soon the farmers and their wives will ask the Shepherd and Shepherdess, “give us some of your magical woolen garments.” And the Shepherd and Shepherdess will say: you all have sheep and dogs on your farmsteads.  We will show you the way of Shepherding.

And in time, the chaos of the valley, the animals roaming everywhere, the too cold, too hot, too sweaty, too smelly farmers and the incessant complaining by them and their wives will die down. The farmsteads become more peaceful and productive, and there is an abundance to share at the fall harvest. The dogs will be happy and contented. Order will have been brought to chaos. And they will be rewarded by their Master with a warm hearth and juicy bone, for in the bounty of the harvest, their efforts of attentiveness and obedience to the Master will be recognized.

For when their work is done, the Master comes and presents them His finest sheepskin to rest on.

And so it goes, a sheep dog is ennobled only when it serves its Master. Otherwise, it’s just a wild animal gratifying its instincts to control and dominate for the sake of it. The Shepherd brings much-needed temperance to the barking, biting, wild herding instincts that all sheep dogs have.

On Temperance

Let us consider Thor, the god of thunder, and his mighty weapon—the indestructible hammer, Mjölnir. This legendary weapon was said to level mountains. Powerful, indeed.

Somewhat lacking in finesse, though.  And certainly, in any sparring match, we can bring the hammer down on those who “oppose us,” overpowering them with our voice, our physical presence, our intellectual prowess. But this is not sparring…there is no “play” there…it is all-out brute force for one purpose: to bring the other person into line. It is tyranny, plain and simple. And a total waste of energy and force. No one responds well to it. No one wants to engage with a barbaric monster wielding a club, neither a self-righteous “holier-than-thou” individual wielding “the hammer of the gods.”

To spar playfully with a weapon requires a sword…a light and graceful weapon whose blade has been tempered. If the force of the hammer of Thor is not spent bashing others over the head, but rather is applied to the tempering of steel…slowly, in the fires of the forge and waters of the trough…the most incredible blade can result. One worthy of a true “warrior monk.”

warrior-monk-samurai

We may think the Samurai holds the highest respect because he carries with him the Katana. It is the symbol of his rank: the physical embodiment of Bushido—the way of the warrior—discipline, training but also wisdom and spirituality. The tempered steel is legendary. Forged for months. The blade razor-sharp. Deadly in a single stroke. With great power comes great responsibility. With it comes a code. A code which is not broken. It is the combination of these elements which earned the Samurai loyalty and respect. Duels were bound by Bushido. And the participants wielded their swords with great discipline.

We can think of Highlander and the advice Ramirez gives to his brother Connor: “never lose your temper; never overextend your thrust, etc.” Those are the tactics of a brute wielding a warhammer, not a true swordsman.

Ramirez-Conner-Highlander-Swordsmanship

A true warrior is humble, watchful; as light-hearted as he is light on his feet.  A true swordsman approaches the field of conflict on equal footing: all men are equal in the eyes of god. The duel is the great equalizer: mano-e-mano. The steel of the sword has no prejudice: it will cut down righteous man and unrighteous man; rich man and poor man; he who is “right” in the argument in question, and he who is “wrong.” Be it at the end of a blade or the barrel of a pistol (the degeneration of dueling), many have felt the agonizing truth of the matter far too late: that it is better to lose an argument than one’s life.

So here let our thoughts turn to The Princess Bride, and the duel between Inigo and the Man in Black. Or the duel from Romeo and Juliet: a duel of wit and words like no other. Both are legendary in their own right. There is a kind of playfulness there. The former seems to end poorly but turns out for the best, while the latter—tragically—serves a different purpose altogether.

We have all heard the expression “pick your battles.” And it is true, it is better to avoid them altogether. But sometimes we cannot. Sometimes we must fight for what is right. Just as the sheep dog must follow the will of the Master and make a sheep obey every now and then, so too we find ourselves at an impasse. It is remembering to temper our steel, remember we serve the Shepherd and NOT our instincts to bark, bite, etc. that makes all the difference.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I Shall Not Want

But practically speaking, how do we do this? It is easy to say “don’t bring down the hammer,” but when you feel the rage (or fear, or frustration, aversion to the conflict altogether, or whatever) building and bubbling up from below, how can we turn the hammer on ourselves? How can we reign in the growling, barking, biting dogs?

We remember that we are not ONLY the sheep dog. We are ALSO the Shepherd’s staff…Our SPINAL COLUMN.

The Shepherd’s Crook (Practice)

We can visualize the Shepherd, our Master, gripping our spinal column at the height of our heart. He is there, always, in our heart. Our Essence, our True Self. We can remember He is there, with us in the moment, standing behind us. He has our back.  We can remember His purpose for us: to assist Him and His Wife to reap the wool (free the consciousness) from these rampaging, misbehaving sheep (the wild mind infected by a legion of egos) and weave beautiful garments of temperance and moderation which all will marvel at (the human soul). Then we take a breath, long and slow and visualize the fires, the energy, rising from the root of the spine in the coccyx, up the spinal column, to the very top of the head…we can hold it a moment or two as we move the breath over the crown of the head to the third eye between the eyebrows. We can contract our root chakra as we do this, and clench any part of the body where we feel tension, agitation, etc. Then, we relax, breath out (and any clenched body part) sending the breath down the front of our chest and let it settle in the heart. The following picture describes the practice in more detail.

Shepherds-Crook-Practice-med

Thus, we have taken whatever impression it was which was about to send us into a fit of anger, fear, frustration, etc. and put it in the hand of God…our Master…the Shepherd. Whatever circumstances around us is triggering egos inside of us, making us leap to judgment, condemnation, and any number of reactions (from “I’ll fix ‘em!”  to “why does this always happen to me!?”)  and send it “upstairs to management.” And we now we wait, attentive…patient…obedient for the Master’s call. For HIS response. It will be the appropriate one. Have faith.

The response might come to you in any form. It might pop into your head. It might be a gut feeling…something you feel in the superior aspects of your heart-mind rather than think or feel in the inferior emotions like hurt, anger, fear, sentimentality, etc. Just keep one eye in, and one eye out. Relax. Stay present. Attentive. If the mind is going 100 miles per hour, just watch that, too. Recognize the suffering you’re experiencing, and the suffering of others around you in the situation. Trust your Self. Your Shepherd is ALWAYS calling to us…it’s just our consciousness is asleep. We’re not used to listening. Don’t listen to the voices in your head…listen for the Still Soft Voice in your Heart. And when you sense it, act on it. Don’t second guess this precious intuition.   

Facing conflict situations is only the most obvious practical use of this technique.

We can, with some effort and some practice, repeat this on a continual, ongoing basis. Self-observation and Self-remembering: being consciously aware of the Shepherd’s staff within us, in the firm yet gentle grip of our Being’s hands. Every impression we receive we send continually up the spine over the crown through the third eye and to the heart. Any experience which would normally excite us to a reaction: “positive or negative,” we give to the Master. And we can receive from the Master the appropriate response in any given situation. We can begin experiencing objectively…and begin experiencing the peace, joy and happiness of oneness…with our Higher Self; with all things.

Clearly, in trying circumstances this technique lends itself to the recognition: “I am not qualified, I am out of my depth, etc.” and we send the problem along to He who *IS* qualified. Not only is He qualified, it’s what He’s here for…here and now…to experience the EXACT trial we are facing.

We are not here to experience for ourselves. That “me, myself and I” we’re so identified with isn’t real; that’s just our false self. But with its thousands of non-stop chattering voices in our head and powerful grip over our hearts and bodies (cravings, aversions), it is damned convincing about “who’s the boss of us.” Our egos will do anything to keep us serving them, and so it puts us to sleep; and we dream the lives we live: with all the barking, biting and roaming of our dog eat dog world.

But we are here to serve the Master. It is the Master who is here to experience. We are the conduit for His experience. Likewise, we are not here to “express ourselves.” We are here to serve the Master. It is the Master who is here to express Himself through us. Every sense you have ever had about your “purpose,” “your mission in life,” or even “your destiny” in this life, has come from Him. The Being knows. It’s our ego that co-opts that purpose, calls it “my purpose” (and “my talent, my gifts, my powers”) and then makes us suffer trying to figure out what it is (or how best to use them). The Being knows. If only we would listen to—and trust—the Still Soft Voice whispering from within.

The practice of the Shepherd’s Staff speaks to the heart of this simple truth.

The Archetype of the Mage

But let us return to this question of conflict. The Master in one hand has His staff, our spinal column, which He uses to herd our sheep…our dumb, mechanical, animal egos…and in the other He holds a sword: the light, fast yet deadly weapon, tempered, like the watchful obedient dog which when unleashed flies at the command of the Shepherd.

We may turn our mind to the great battle scenes from The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King, when we see Gandalf the White on the battlements of Minas Tirith, fighting the hordes of orcs off with His staff in one hand and His sword in the other. In fact, when we see Gandalf in any number of scenes from the LOTR Trilogy, we are witnessing the archetype of The Magician come to life via myth and high fantasy.

Sometimes The Magician must fight. Yes, a wise man avoids conflict when he can but we mustn’t be naïve.  The Avatar of Aquarius—Samael Aun Weor—is the God of War not by accident. We must beware any tendencies we may have to avoid sparring “mano-e-mano” when it is called for, out of some vain aversion to tests of will.

If we use temperance, and admit “I am not qualified, I put my life and the outcome of this duel in the hands of my Innermost Magician,” we can invoke the Archetype of the Battlemage: we block incoming blows with the staff of the humble Shepherd held firmly in the Hand of our Inner God in our hearts (we send the fires ignited within us by incoming attacks up the spinal column to the top of the head as we breath in and hold our breath a little…we can imagine those firey, angry, spiteful, vengeful fires from below transforming into the fires of SHIN (ש)…sending it around to the third eye and then down to the heart as we exhale) and respond with the light, quick, razor-sharp accurate sword of temperance (we receive responses from the Being and speak with words which are light, few, and targeted specifically and directly at the issue at hand…to bring the conflict to a close).

This is how the Magician goes into battle. Armed with a staff for defense and a tempered steel of scalpel accuracy to win the duel and settle the matter; to help the one he is trying to help see the light.

For in the end, the Magician is a Healer. Gandalf is cleansing the tower of demons. But a surgeon removing a tumor uses the same skills: nerves of steel, a razor sharp scalpel and patience. It is not by accident that the individual lying on the table is called “the patient.”

Imagine if that doctor approached said patient with a meat mallet…so we mustn’t bring down the hammer on others who are in need of healing.

To Be Heard or not to Be Heard

In synthesis, to herd is the need to be heard. We must always remember that though we feel great urgency at times in our hearts that we really need to be heard, we must—like a good dog—check in with and obey the Shepherd so His Wife will have wool to weave magical garments of protection with.

We must remember that though we will feel great passion at times that we are in the right and another is in the wrong, we must—like the blacksmith—use the fires and the hammer to temper the steel within us and create a legendary katana for our Samurai Lord to wield.

Although conflicts will arise, and others will attack us, we must remember our inner battlemage, and remember that the “I” cannot win a fight, but our inner Gandalf can—if we cooperate with Him, let Him defend us with His staff and make the surgical strikes for us with temperance, patience and a razor-sharp blade.

If it has not become clear by now, our Master, our Highest Self, the Mage within arms Himself for the trials and tests of experience with a staff and a sword. WE ARE THAT STAFF AND THAT SWORD. We are meant to be His loyal sheep dog. Sharp. Aware. Direct. Conscious that we can herd our sheep with our attention and Thor’s hammer…the whip of willpower.

And what of those magical garments? If we replace Thor’s Hammer with the whip of willpower, a powerful symbol emerges…

Pharoah

Here we see the revelation about certain Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. The symbols are all right there: the Shepherd’s crook, the flail or whip (Thor’s Hammer) which they used on themselves so that they could become perfect swords for their Inner Magician. In other words, Pharoahs were revered in Egypt as enlightened, awakened human beings…god-like in their perfection of themselves. The flail has 3 prongs: one for each centre of the human animal… mental, emotional, and motor-physical-sexual centre.

Ideally (during the Golden Age of Egypt) Pharaohs ruled with the wisdom and compassion of their Innermost Shepherd working through them, reigned in their sheep, reaped the wool of consciousness trapped in their egos, so that their Inner Shepherdess (our individual Divine Mother) could weave for them the magical garments. These are the beautiful golden vestments of AN AWAKENED HUMAN BEING. In other words, the HUMAN SOUL. A vessel worthy of embodying our Highest Self. A swaddling cloth for “the Child King” to be born within us; and, a vessel capable of travelling in the superior dimensions for all eternity (Egyptians prepared themselves their whole life for the afterlife).

Now we can comprehend that Tutankhamun is a compound word: “Tut-Ankh-Amun”… “Courageous-Key of Life-Amen.” (The Ankh is the cross of ancient Egypt, a symbol of Christification…but this is too deep a topic to get into here).

We are not born with a human soul, as is falsely believed and taught by many. We are not actually born human beings. We are intellectual animals. We are just like dogs…only we are dogs with intellect and ego, neither of which dogs have. There’s a reason why dogs are “man’s best friend.” We identify with them, pure and simple. They are familiar to us, and they behave a lot like us—whether we like to admit that or not. Or better put, we behave like them.

This is not religion. This is practical divine science. That materialist science doesn’t get it is because it, like many religions, traditions, philosophies, art forms, etc., has become overrun by a bunch of barking, biting dogs chasing sheep over hells half acre without listening for guidance from their Innermost Shepherd. Clever dogs, to be sure…and our egos are very clever. Materialist scientists have rational thought on their side which is certainly convincing…and the egos are very convincing. What they lack is awakened consciousness…they are disconnected from their Inner Shepherd who is connected to all things in all dimensions; and who is pure, unconditional Love.

Ask yourself: are the following just by accident?

  • The inverse of DOG is GOD.
  • The thing we force on one another, fight incessantly about, and are even willing to kill for is called DOGMA.

A quick word on Introverts and Extroverts

Obviously, the allegory of the barking dog comes from the point-of-view of an extrovert: that is, one whose general response is outward, open, overt aggression. This is because the direct experience of the insignificant person of this author is predominated by a very sensitive, extroverted personality type.

That said, everything written above equally applies to the introvert; however, we must comprehend that where the extrovert channels aggression outwardly, the introvert internalizes it.

In the case of the former, the individual at least has the benefit of releasing negative energy (getting things “off their chest, out in the open, etc.”). In the case of the latter, some serious consequences can result. Mostly, in the subconscious mind, where the negative thoughts go, simmer, ferment, fester, occasionally bubble up in the way of passive aggressive behaviours, but very often seep out in a kind of slow, methodical radiation of toxic energy.

And although the passive aggressive individual may feel as though they are doing themselves and others a service by “not engaging in conflict, avoiding an argument, withdrawing from the battlefield” they must comprehend that the source of the conflict they are avoiding is within them, just as sure as it is within their “opponent.” The avoidance itself is a sophisticated psychological construct of egos, dominated by fear and laziness, which harbours within itself much resentment and which feeds on unprocessed negative energy. It eats away at individuals and is generally speaking toxic to relationships.

This is how others experience it, anyway.

Some signs you may be a sheep dog disconnected from your Shepherd:

  • You worry more about others’ spiritual development than your own (“I” am on a mission)
  • Worried about what others will think, say (fear of judgment)
  • Binging (food, work, etc.)
  • Obsessive behaviours
  • Resentment when others don’t see things your way (attachments to what others think)
  • Upset when circumstances don’t go your way (attachments to outcomes)
  • Need for order (A-type personality)
  • Overwhelming, uncontrollable emotional outburst
  • Justifying one’s thoughts, words and actions to oneself based on some “higher ideal” or external “authority” (superiority complex)

This is only the beginning…but we must begin somewhere

And of course, this is not the whole story. This is only the beginning. For instance, “what about the work of the Shepherdess!? How do we go about shearing the sheep!? How does consciousness create the human soul!? What are these sheep, these egos, how did they get into us and how do they control us!?” There is SO MUCH MORE to share and explore (each on their own…to experience and verify for themselves all that has been shared here today…especially the Shepherd’s Staff).

But that, as they say, is another story.

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