Inspirational Story: The Tigress and the Mouse

"The Tigress and the Mouse" is an inspirational story that reminds us that rage is a powerful force at times to break out of unhealthy habits.From the book "Silent Ripples: Parables for the Soul."


Anger is not generally a healthy emotion, as it is usually based on fear of losing something. It is contrary to the realization that all is well; for the Infinite Being, who one really is, the idea of loss is impossible. Anger is the ego's way of reinforcing the notion that every one is separated and alone in a very scary universe.

However, with that said, there are times when anger is a powerful tool to change behavior in one's own habits or in others. As a parent, and as a Waldorf teacher at times, anger can wake a child to the fact that a behavior is causing harm to oneself or to another. When my first child ate some wild mushrooms when he was a toddler I roughly yanked out the pieces from his mouth and yelled at him. He did not eat wild mushrooms without an adult present again. When Jesus became angry at the moneychangers for making the temple into a market, he did it not out of fear for himself, but as a shock to wake people up to the fact that they were losing the reason for coming to a holy place.

This following inspirational story, "The Tigress and the Mouse," I wrote when I was working briefly at an animal refuge in Southern California. They told me of animals that are so used to being incarcerated that when they find themselves free they go back to the known, back to their cage. They told me of a lion who ripped apart his cage to get at a lioness in heat. And then returned when he and fulfilled his desire. Thinking of how easy that lion tore apart the linked fence did not give me reassurance when I fed the tigers in my charge.

People are no different than these cage beasts. How many of us stay in an abusive relationship out of fear of moving into the unknown, which the ego says may be worse than the present situation? And look at those of us who have lived behind bars for so long that when they are out they commit a crime in order to come back to the security of the cell. Habits or living in old confining patterns can be broken. Sometimes Grace will descend, like it did for my drinking habit, and it just vanishes, or it takes a powerful anger that sharpens the will, like a sword, to cut the bonds.

Enjoy the story, and may you cut away all that binds you from the freedom of expressing the greatness of who you are.

The Tigress and the Mouse

In the great city on the outskirts of the dwindling jungle, there existed an enormous zoo, where it held every beast of the world captive, in order to entertain the humans who came to view them.

The more popular of the sections was Cat Row, because the humans believed power could be contained. Those who watched the big cats felt fear and excitement as they imagined facing such a creature in the wild; while, at the same time, experiencing great satisfaction, triumph, that their race could cage such a beast.

And for so long the zoo existed, the wild controlled and examined.

Then one day there came a new cat, an enormous tigress, placed alone in a cage upon Cat Row. How furious she felt as she paced back and forth, while those smaller creatures watched from outside.

She did not possess any thoughts of wanting to destroy such creatures, no thoughts of revenge. However, she was enraged to find herself in such a pathetic state. For what was she but the queen of the jungle, the biggest tiger that ever lived?

Once free. Now robbed of freedom and dignity.

Unlike the other tigers near her, as well as the other cats—all of which would spend their time in complacency, sleeping, waiting for their daily meal of meat slaughtered without respect—the tigress spent her first three days pacing back and forth in rage, snarling at the two-leggeds watching her.

Yet, as each day passed she paced less and less, until she seldom left her sheltered corner at all.

Then one morning, before any visitors came about, a mouse slipped quietly through the steel-wired fence, and looked up at the great beast.

The mouse cleared her throat and said to the tigress: “Hello, lady tiger, I have come to pay you a visit. To pay you respect. To humbly inquire who you might be.”

The tigress opened one eye sleepily and saw the tiny mouse. Uninterested, the eye closed.

“Excuse me, lady,” said the mouse again, “I am very sorry to disturb you; for no doubt you are a very important being and are surely too busy to speak to a lowly mouse. Yet I have never seen such a large tiger as you. You who not even the largest of the males could match in majesty. I must know who you are.”

The eye opened again and a tired voice said: “Go away, annoying mouse. Leave me to my slumber.”

And the eye closed once more.

Undeterred, the mouse said again: “You are very correct, dear lady, I am annoying. And a few days ago I would never have ventured into this cage to address you, for fear of your swiftness and your anger. Now...oh well, I shall not disturb you from your precious sleep.”

The mouse turned to leave.

“Wait,” said the tigress as she raised her head to look at this little bold visitor in front of her. “Come and speak, little one.”

“You are most gracious, lady. Please tell me who you are and why you are here, trapped. How could one such as you now be caged?”

“I am the Queen Tigress,” said she as she sat on her haunches, feeling a semblance of her old pride. “And over an enormous jungle I reigned, watching over its inhabitants as their guardian. No animal was ever stronger and nothing was there to fear. Then a day came when I heard a goat bleating, and in my hunger I thought it was inviting me to share in its life. It was too late before I realized it cried in warning.

“And into a deep trap I fell. Then the two-leggeds came and stuck me with something sharp. And a heavy veil of sleep fell upon me.

“It was here, in this cage, that I awoke.”

“Do you not wish to return to the jungle?” asked the mouse.

“Why even ask a question as such?” she replied, slumping now. “There is nothing I would rather do. How I long to stalk in its deep shadows, to hear its songs of the night. And it is for this, to relive those times, that I sleep so.”

The mouse shook her head. It looked at the thin steel-wire fence and then to the tigress with its enormous mass and rippling form.

“Tell me, lady, you are mighty, are you not?”

“None mightier, little mouse.”

“And do you have eyes with which to see?”

“Yes, of course, and a fine pair, indeed. So fine are they that not even the darkest of nights could hide you from my sight.”

“Then why do you remain here, great lady? Do you not see this barrier, so thin, so frail, that keeps you from your freedom? What madness must blind your eyesight.”

“Watch your little tongue, mouse. I am in no mood to hear such imprudence from the likes of you.

“I am here because I cannot escape. Look around you. Do you not see these other cats, some nearly as large as I, who for years have existed here. They were the ones who laughed at my initial rage and said it would soon past. For they said my rage was all in vain. They said none had ever escaped, that none ever will.

“They said to be content; be satisfied. For, after all, everyday came a meal. Besides, no fear of injury exists here, nor of disease; and so many years would be lived, far longer than in the wild.

“Be content, they said, for indeed freedom will come...upon the day you die.

“I listened. And I have silenced my rage.”

“My lady, from generation to generation we mice tell the story of the first capture, when the first tiger was caged. So dispirited was this tiger it never tried the strength of the cage; never once did it seek its freedom. It found contentment with its daily meal and its protection.

“When the second tiger came the first saw the other’s rage at its imprisonment. Shameful at its own complacency the first quickly dissuaded the other from attempting to escape its cage.

“And it worked. Now there were two voices that dissuaded the others who followed. The row has grown so ever since.

“Can you not see, great tigress, that all these other cats, which are now but empty shells, out of shame, seek to keep you here. They do not want to be reminded what it is to be alive. And not remembering life, freedom, they choose this enslavement and call it life.

“In the name of Life, do not listen to those voices, no matter how many there are, Queen of the Jungle. Do not forget who you are.

“I cannot bear to witness another death such as it would be if you resign yourself to the cage.”

The tiger in the next cage heard the words of the mouse, and said to the tigress:

“Do not listen to such nonsense, lady. What does a puny mouse know? Use your brain and think of the logic of your predicament. The two-leggeds put you here, conquered your strength by their intelligence. Do you think they could not devise a cage to keep us in?

“I, too, want to leave, believe me. But I am not going to waste my time and look the fool trying the impossible. Besides the obvious desire to be back in the jungle, what other needs are there here?

“Take my advise and throw that mouse out. Or better yet, eat it.”

As the tigress listened to the words of the other, a fire from her heart began to burn, as she felt the truth behind his words—the truth the mouse had spoken, and that all along she had let herself be deceived. And as she looked more upon the deception, like a wind those lies fanned the fire in her heart.

The rage grew and grew, even greater than that first day of capture. And beating with the pounding of her heart she heard the song of the jungle.

The rage grew still more. Until she could take it no more. Then with a mighty roar and one swipe at the cage the metal links tore as easily away as if they were nothing more than a spider’s web.

And there before her was a large hole to the outside, a gateway to her freedom, to the jungle. Without hesitation the tigress leapt through and was free.

But before she sped away she turned to look at the little wise mouse, whose words of reminder, whose words of love, had awakened her strength. Her heart surged with such gratitude as she saw the smile of the mouse.

Then, as she was turning away towards the jungle she looked back to those others upon cat row and to their cages. And the anger towards the cages was renewed, and she wanted to tear them all down. Yet, a voice inside said to her that it must they who decide. For even if she were to tear the cages down, out of fear, all would stay inside or quickly return.

This thought filled her with much sorrow.

Yet, as she turned away for the final time, and at last disappeared into the welcoming shadows of the jungle, she knew many eyes from behind cages had witnessed her freedom.


Inspirational Stories: Wisdom for the Journey
Janaka's Inspirational Books: Words to Uplift and Reveal
Inspirational Story: The Desert Spring
Inspirational Story: The Ant and the Honey
Anxity and Depression
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