Do you know you may be pretending to be someone, and you may not even know? Let me share a story with you.

Once upon a time, the residents of a particular village were frequently troubled by a lion. Every night, it would quietly slip into some barn and prey on the helpless sheep and goats. Sometimes, it would even go for a larger kill like a cow or a buffalo. The villagers tried every remedy under the sun without success.

Eventually, a brave one suggested, “Somehow, we must attract the lion during the day time. We can then dispatch him from a close distance. This is the only way to get rid of the beast.”
“But, who will bell the cat?” an elderly person spoke.

“I’ve just the right plan to do it. It’s clear that the lion is not going to come to the village when the sun’s out. Instead, we’ll have to go into the woods. I’m a sharpshooter. I’ll masquerade myself and go in the jungle, pretending to be as a cow, hiding my gun, and stand innocently in the jungle. As soon as the lion approaches me, I’ll shoot him point-blank. It’ll have no chance of survival.”

They praised him for his brilliant plan and arranged a full-fledged cow’s hide, complete with a head and a tail. They wrapped cow’s skin around him, carefully placed his gun in cow’s mouth, they stuffed wild grass to make him, the fake cow, look plump and off he went to the woods in the most stunning disguise pretending as a cow.

No sooner did half an hour pass than the man was seen rushing back towards the village. He was without his gun, his clothes somewhat torn, strands of tall grass falling out of his pockets, cow’s skin was loosely hanging off, cow’s head was still stuck to his head, he no longer looked the perfect mascot of a cow.

The villagers gathered quickly, they helped him in taking off the hide, offered him a seat, gave him water, they calmed him down.

“You look really scared and distressed. Did the lion overpower you or something?” A man asked, pitifully glancing at his tattered condition.
“Lion? Man, I never even got to the lion,” he said anxiously, “the bulls, those lecherous bulls chased me down, thinking I was a real cow. I removed the stuffing while I ran for my life, but they would not give up.”

The villagers let out roars of laughter. The man joined in too.

I find the story as profound as funny. The man could have tethered a real cow to a tree and wait for the lion while on the tree. Instead, he chose to be what he was not. By pretending to be someone else, not only did he put himself through trauma and torture, he failed in accomplishing his goal facing a completely unexpected situation. A while ago, I wrote on living in pajamas, being yourself, you may want to read it again.

When you try to be someone you are not when you disguise yourself, it puts a great deal of burden on you to match the new role, it distances you from the real you, the original you, making you restless and fickle. You now have to act the role; it introduces a whole lot of complications in your inner and outer world.

Perhaps, in order to live in this world it is not always possible to be in one role only or to never act one. However, the primary difference between a self-realized and an ordinary person is that the enlightened merely acts the role in the present moment, whereas the latter starts to live the role. The role takes them over; they lose connection with the source, their real self.

For instance, a military officer comes home and continues to act tough and firm on his wife, his kids, and others, as if they are his cadets. He is not in his uniform, and he is not in his office, yet he is still behaving like a commanding officer. Is it possible to switch flawlessly, you may ask? Yes, it is. This is called living in the moment.

If you are living in the moment, you would know if you are pretending or being yourself.

Act your role without it taking you over. You can be wherever you need to be at that time you are there, but for now, be here, in this moment, Now. A disguise, however perfect, is a disguise after all.

Peace
Swami