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Symbols - What does heaven look like

Tiger

There is no one common meaning associated with the tiger, as each culture tends to put a different slant on the meaning depending on how the tiger is viewed in real life. 

The Nawab of Jhajjar astride pet tiger.

Eastern symbolism

 In many Eastern cultures, the Tiger has the same symbolic meaning as the Lion

It is thus a symbol of the Intellect and the Conscious self. 

The sort of strength we see in the Tiger is not that of brute force, it is a sort of inner strength, a mental strength, a will to succeed and strength of character.  Thus the Tiger also symbolises the Will.

The Tiger was symbolically capable of tackling extremely difficult challenges and succeeding through this inner strength and through their understanding of the need to fight in ways other than direct head to head conflict – so the power of Reason over Emotion.  The Intellect is also the king of the functions, it is the Conscious self and thus rules us.

But, the Intellect is the block to spiritual experience and as such symbolically speaking what we are attempting to do when we are seeking spiritual experience is to ‘tame the Tiger’ or' ride the Tiger'.

This is why you often see miniatures and prints from India and Moghul art as well as from China, portraying a revered leader riding a Tiger.  They were symbolically taming the Intellect in order to preserve their spiritual abilities and achieve balance.

 

Western symbolism

The Tiger in the West appears to have taken on some of the symbolism of the deep subconscious, which makes the symbolism extremely confusing.  In effect, the tiger is representative of certain animal instincts often power and predation, for example.

The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience – Dr Robert Masters and Dr Jean Houston
He had left behind him the 'blood lust, anger and unrestrained sensuality' of the tiger. 

There are some interesting parallels to be drawn here between the use of the tiger and the Lion and its use in the sphinx.

Masculine = Autonomic system + Conscious self

Feminine = Subconscious [emotions and perceptions] allied with Higher spirit

Tiger as a symbol of rebirth

In some eastern cultures, the tiger is also associated with rebirth being an alternative mechanism of rebirth to being pierced with swords.

Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy
The hala himself can turn into a tiger just like the bomor of Kelantan and the Malayan shamans and shamanesses.  Such a conception indicates Malayan influence.  We must not forget, however, that the mythical Tiger Ancestor is regarded throughout South East Asia as the initiatory master; it is he who takes the neophytes to the jungle to initiate them – in reality to ‘kill’ and ‘revive’ them.  In other words, the tiger forms part of an extremely archaic religious complex……. A bomor belian – that is a specialist in invocations to the tiger spirit – of the Kelantan region, attempting to recall his period of initiatory insanity, could remember only that he had wandered in the jungle and met a tiger; he had mounted on its back and the tiger had taken him to Kadang baluk, the mythical place where tiger-men live.  He returned after an absence of three years and thenceforth had no more epileptic seizures

Observations

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