Think Like A Dragon, Become A Dragon
Think like a dragon, become a dragon.
It’s a pretty straightforward concept… one that I’ve been mulling over for a while.
One sentence summary: “he which is was wished until he were” – Shakespeare
Let’s explain what on earth it actually means.
In C.S Lewis’ book ‘The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader’ (Amazon Affiliate link) – part of the Narnia series – there is a character called Eustace who stumbles into a dragon’s cave.
It’s not the glory of being a dragon slayer or the thrill of adventure that Eustace is after… but rather the treasure.
In fact, he’s a bit of a coward and ensures that the dragon is 100% dead before he even attempting to go inside the lair.
You see, Eustace is someone who wants all the reward, without any of the work.
When he gets to the cave, Eustace is thrilled by the vast amount of treasure and begins stuffing his pockets… his only concern being how he can sneak a hoard of gold back onto the ship without having to share it with the others.
After his giddiness wears off, he falls asleep.
This is when C.S. Lewis gives us one of the most haunting lines in children’s literature:
“Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.”
I’ve woken up feeling pretty rough before, but not quite like this….
Eustace had become the very thing he was afraid of and the very creature he was trying to avoid/steal from.
How to become a dragon
It’s simple: think like one.
I remember the mantra of a diet guru that was on TV when I was a child, she always said: “You are what you eat.”
Of course, we don’t transform into a chicken if we eat a chicken, nor do we actually transfigure into a dragon if we think like one… but there is a principle here that carries a lot of weight and significance for our lives.
For the purposes of this post, I’d like to change that to “you are what you think.”
This isn’t a new thought by any stretch of the imagination and is held in high esteem by the world’s of religion, psychology and ‘self-helpism.’
“The mind is everything. What you think, you become,” – Buddha
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve” – Napoleon Hill
“He which is was wished until he were” – Shakespeare
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23
Side note: People commonly quote Proverbs 23:7 – “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” – but as pointed out by Herman in his blog, this isn’t a great translation… though the bible does touch on this principle multiple times throughout scripture.
Here’s some examples:
1. How to become busy/stressed
Spend as much time as possible thinking about and telling everyone how busy you are.
It has become ‘cool’ ‘successful’ or ‘impressive’ to be outrageously busy in our culture despite the horrific impact it can have on every inch of our lives (starting with our families.)
This grinds my gears something shocking when I see it, but truthfully I’ve been guilty of spending years this way.
The busy mindset can become so ingrained in us, that when we somehow eventually have time off we either don’t know what to do with it, or feel guilty about having it.
2. How to allow lust to consume your life
Spend as much time watching pornography and fantasizing as you can.
Mull over it. Allow your idle thoughts and daydreams to wander there.
3. How to let money and greed be your master
Spend as much time as possible thinking about what you don’t have.
Surf the web for houses, shoes, phones, cameras and holidays you can’t afford.
Spend extra unnecessary hours ‘going over’ the family finances and check the bank account statement as often as you check your emails/social media.
It’s more than just positive thinking
This is more than just thinking happy, beneficial thoughts.
It’s more than some wishy-washy self-help guru fad or pop-psychology.
This is about slaying our dragonish thoughts.
This is about taking every thought captive.
(Wayyy easier said than done.)
Taking every thought captive
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” – 2 Corinthians 10:5
‘You need to take every thought captive’ is a piece of advice that gets flung around the church world frequently.
For years it always inspired and touched something deep in me that I found to be true.
But it still left me bamboozled… it felt very lofty and I had no idea how to actually put it into practice.
It may not be a perfect analogy, but the following helps me understand it and frame it a little easier.
Guard your letterbox
I hate junk mail.
In fact, I’m one step away from becoming ‘that guy’ with the stickers on his door that says “NO JUNK MAIL, NO COLD CALLERS, NO SALESMEN ETC”
(How I have become a grumpy old man at 23 years old is a mystery to me.)
Junk mail clutters my house and it clutters my mind (because it usually makes me want to buy something I never even knew existed prior to the flyer.)
Like most people, we have a very simple system in our home.
When we get mail, we sort it out at the door, take what has meaning to us and then dump the rest (in the recycling bin of course.)
It’s simple, easy and effective.
Guard your mind
This is how (in my opinion) we can take every thought captive.
Most thoughts come into our heads outside of our control or will. They just happen.
Now, there are many things we can do to manage our thought-life such as the company we keep, the environments we allow ourselves to be in and what we consume…
We can ‘put the stickers up on the door’ to discourage the junk mail from coming in… but at the end of the day, rogue thoughts will still make their way through.
But, we can control how we sort through these thoughts and ultimately what we do with them.
Which will we choose to dump and which will we choose to dwell on?
After thinking this way I now am beginning to grasp why they call it ‘the battle of the mind’ but also how it is a battle worth fighting in.
Because it determines whether we take our own thoughts captive or allow them to hold us in captivity.
Don’t become a dragon
Let’s make the choice not to think like a dragon.
Let’s be more aware about what we allow our thoughts to dwell on.
And let’s gently steer them back to what is lovely when they attempt to sprout dragonish wings and fly away.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” – Philippians 4:8
Thanks for reading.
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– Matthew Thompson
The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
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