Home » Teachings » Tales and Parables » The Stag That Knew Better

The Stag That Knew Better

To worship is inherent in every man’s nature; only the highest philosophy can rise to pure abstraction. So man will ever personify his God in order to worship Him. This is very good, as long as the symbol, be it what it may, is worshipped as a symbol of the Divinity behind and not in and for itself. Above all, we need to free ourselves from the superstition of believing because ‘it is in the books’… There was once a stag, proud and free, and he talked in a lordly fashion to his child, ‘Look at me, see my powerful horns! With one thrust I can kill a man; it is a fine thing to be a stag!’ Just then the sound of the huntsman’s bugle was heard in the distance, and the stag precipitately fled, followed by his wondering child. When they had reached a place of safety, he inquired, ‘Why do you fly before man, O my father, when you are so strong and brave?’ The stag answered, ‘My child, I know I am strong and powerful, but when I hear that sound, something seizes me and makes me fly whether I will or no.’ So with us. We hear the ‘bugle sound’ of the laws laid down in the books, habits and old superstitions lay hold of us; and before we know it, we are fast bound and forget our real nature which is freedom. (CW, 8:33-34)