Consider the image of the mahout on the elephant. He is a small man on a large beast, directing it wherever he wants it to go.
The elephant is huge and powerful. If it took off running, the man could fall off. It could shake him off and kill him. But it doesn’t. It lets the man on, and lets the man tell it where to go. It passively gives up its power. It lets him use its power for his own purposes, which may have no benefit for the elephant. All day long the elephant moves trees or clears brush. The elephant does not get to do what it wants. The elephant has been tamed.
Sometimes we are the elephant. We are unaware of how much of our power we give away. We’ve let others tell us how to do things. We’ve let others convince us that we need them.
How are you being directed? Who is leading you? Is it a teacher, or a minister, or a boss? Is it a spouse, or a friend, or a neighbor?
Or is it something harder to see? That mahout directs the elephant and the elephant can’t even see him because he is sitting on his back. Sometimes what controls us is the same way. Maybe it is bad habits, or cigarettes, or food, or alcohol? Maybe it is a family tradition that doesn’t serve you anymore?
I’m pretty sure the elephant wouldn’t even imagine shaking off that mahout and walking away into the jungle without him. I suspect that elephant thinks that he has to have that mahout. How will he ever get food? Where will he sleep? What will he do all day without that mahout? He’s forgotten how to be an elephant.
We are the same way. We can continue to be bystanders in our lives, or we can start being active. Sure, it is scary. But it is less scary than spending your whole life feeling led around.