Tail of the dog

Why your life depends on mastering your thoughts, feelings and beliefs

Hello everyone.

A distressed Buddhist monk goes to his Abbot for advice.

“People in the street are mocking me,” he complains. “They’re calling me a dog!”

“Turn around and look at your rear end,” the Abbot says.

The monk looks at his own backside.

“Do you see a tail wagging?”

“No,” says the monk.

“Then the matter is settled,” says the Abbot.

When I heard that story, my first thought was, it’s not that funny. But my second was that it contains an interesting question. Why do we give other people—even strangers—the power to make us feel badly about ourselves?  Eleanor Roosevelt understood the same point when she said, “No one can make us feel inferior without our consent.”

Our reaction is a personal choice. Put a thousand people through the same event and a thousand paths will come out the other side depending on how each person chooses to react.

In the West, we habitually seek external cause for our current condition: we blame our parents, our upbringing, lovers, accidents, fate, the stars, the government and God. And people in the street. In doing so, we miss the point.             

Here, again, is the first universal truth: You are entirely the creator of your reality.


Entirely. At mostly subconscious levels—starting before birth and fuelled by the accumulated gestalt of thoughts, feelings and beliefs that were once conscious—you create every event, detail and nuance of your life. The day you live this truth and take conscious control is the day you declare your freedom and power. It’s also the day you cease to be a victim.

Before birth you choose the highway. During life you choose the lanes. One highway, a million lanes, and you negotiate those lanes with your thoughts. Most of us have little idea of the long-term power of our conscious thoughts. But Hindu teachers have known for 3,000 years. What you think, you become; what you feel will follow; what you believe will be manifest around you. Just as a beautiful building is the physical expression of an idea, so is our entire, magnificent universe the continuous expression of thought. It is a mass illusion that the physical world exists independently of thought.

The lesson is clear: take control of what you think, feel and believe. Choose. At any moment in any situation, ask yourself, Does this thought, feeling or belief serve me? Does it serve me now? Will to serve me tomorrow?

You may be asking how you could possibly be responsible for that earthquake, or tsunami, or pandemic. Do you believe that many things just happen? Nothing to do with you? But that belief, of its own accord, shapes much of your life.

Where are you on the scale of self-fulfilling creation-beliefs? 

Here’s the lowest, most helpless level of creation-belief. That you’re not the creator of your life, but a victim of circumstance. You always blame your condition on something other than yourself. You never stood a chance. You are inherently worthless. Life is a valley of sorrows.

Is that you? If you have read this far, probably not.

Try the next level, more evolved: you are sometimes the creator of your life. You can influence some events, but most external forces are too strong to fight. You blame most of your condition on something other than yourself. You take some responsibility for what happens to you. You have some worth, some potential. Life is a painful struggle with a few highlights.

Is that you?

The next level: you are mostly the creator of your life. You can influence most events, though sometimes external forces are too great. You take responsibility for most of your actions. You spend little time blaming others for painful events. You are a worthwhile person with faults. You have a lot of potential. Life is an interesting and often enjoyable challenge.

Is that you? If you have read this far, it probably is.

Or is it this? The master level of creation-belief is that you are entirely the creator of your life. You do not see your Earth character as you, but as your work of art. Your every thought and action is your choice. You are fully responsible, not only for your creations but for your response to your creations. You never blame or judge others for your experiences. Your inherent worth and potential are vast. Life is an exciting, surprising, sometimes painful, yet joyous adventure.

Is that you?

Do you see the irony of those levels of creation-belief? What you believe, you will manifest. None of them is right or wrong—you will simply create the conditions that appear to prove you right. The power of a belief is not in its truth, but in its depth and intensity. That is the potency of the first universal truth.

A last word. If you see any value in what I’ve just said, don’t waste even a second faulting yourself for past beliefs. The word is not fault, but cause. Instead, begin the habit of choosing your conscious thoughts, accepting some, dismissing others. Your most frequent and vivid thoughts inform your feelings, which inform your beliefs, which sink into the shadows of your subconscious mind where they become powerful creators of your life.

And if anyone calls you a dog, the length of the tail is your choice.

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