Can a leopard change his spots?

The Leopard

In the story “How the Leopard Got His spots,” by Rudyard Kipling, it is suggested that the leopard was once without spots, but granted his Ethiopian traveling companion the honor of painting his coat………

“Well, make up your mind,” said the Ethiopian, “because I’d hate to go hunting without you, but I must if you insist on looking like a sun-flower against a tarred fence.”

“I’ll take spots, then,” said the Leopard; “but don’t make ’em too vulgar-big. I wouldn’t look like Giraffe–not for ever so.”

“I’ll make ’em with the tips of my fingers,” said the Ethiopian. “There’s plenty of black left on my skin still. Stand over!”

Then the Ethiopian put his five fingers close together (there was plenty of black left on his new skin still) and pressed them all over the Leopard, and wherever the five fingers touched they left five little black marks, all close together. You can see them on any Leopard’s skin you like, Best Beloved. Sometimes the fingers slipped and the marks got a little blurred; but if you look closely at any Leopard now you will see that there are always five spots–off five fat black finger-tips.

“Now you are a beauty!” said the Ethiopian. “You can lie out on the bare ground and look like a heap of pebbles. You can lie out on the naked rocks and look like a piece of pudding-stone. You can lie out on a leafy branch and look like sunshine sifting through the leaves; and you can lie right across the centre of a path and look like nothing in particular. Think of that and purr!” ………

Oh, now and then you will hear grown-ups say, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the Leopard his spots?” I don’t think even grown-ups would keep on saying such a silly thing if the Leopard and the Ethiopian hadn’t done it once–do you? But they will never do it again, Best Beloved. They are quite contented as they are.

Snow Leopard

The idiom, “Can a leopard change his spots?” is used today to imply that just as a leopard cannot change spots, so to human beings cannot change their essential innate nature.

All too often we hear, “you cannot change who you are, people are set in their ways, and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  And no amount of trying will help.

But this contemporary aphorism is quickly falling by the ways side.

Zoologists and conservationists alike study the animal kingdom.  They tell us that an adult male leopard can weigh up to 200 pounds, is about 4-½ feet long and often sports a tail in excess of 2-½ feet.  They are the smallest of the 4 big cats (leopard, tiger, lion and jaguar) and their spotted pattern provides camouflage in an environment filled with trees, bushes, and patchy shadows.

Why the leopard has spots while the tiger has strips is not scientifically understood, but it is usually attributed to the nature of their habitat.  A January 2010 issue of the Genetics journal suggests that at least three different pigmentation genes are involved in the emergence of stripes, spots, and other markings on domestic cats.

Researchers at the University of Bristol have developed a mathematical model that links the patterning of the leopard and 34 other species of wild cats to their different habitats.

All leopards have spots over their bodies. Most leopards are yellowish or tan with black spots. Some leopards, however, are born all black, but even they have spots.

There are many types of leopards and over 30 subspecies:

• African Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) in Africa.
• Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) in the Russian Far East, northern China, and Korea.
• Arabian Leopard (Panthera pardus nimr) in Arabian Peninsula.
• Anatolian Leopard (Panthera pardus tulliana)
• Barbary Leopard (Panthera pardus panthera)
• Caucasian Leopard (Panthera ciscaucasica) in Asia.
• Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) in India, southeastern Nepal, and northern Bangladesh, and parts of Pakistan.
• Indo-Chinese Leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri) in Mainland Southeast Asia.
• Iran Leopard (Pathera pardus saxicolor)
• Javan Leopard (Pathera pardus melas) in Java, Indonesia.
• Melanistic Leopard also known as Black Panther in Malaya Peninsula.
• North China Leopard (Pathera pardus japonensis) in Northern China.
• Persian Leopard (Pathera pardus saxicolor) in Asia.
• Sinai Leopard (Pathera pardus jarvisi)
• South Arabian Leopard (Pathera pardus nimr)
• Sri Lanka Leopard (Pathera pardus kotiya) in Sir Lanka.
• Zanzibar Leopard (Pathera pardus adersi)

Clouded Leopard

Human evolution and growth is the process of changing spots.

The more inert the mind, the harder it is to change.  But change indeed is what happens when we properly apply intellect (Buddhi) and heart (Hridaya) to our daily activities.

What are the human attributes of growth orientated living?

Take responsibility for your actions and do not blame others
Focus on solutions, not problems
Be in the present but learn from the past
Expand your comfort zone and try new things
Take failure in stride but learn from it
Be humble, not egotistical
Continue to hone and leverage your skills
Set goals
Take consistent action
Dream during the day, not during the night
Control and set your own destiny, don’t leave yourself to fate
Listen while others speak
Help others to achieve their highest goals
Be kind and courteous
Make personal develop your priority
Face your fears, accept them, and take the leap
Believe that there are always new things to learn and places to discover
Give more than you take

Snow Leopard Cubs

Meditation greatly accelerates human growth.   Scientific studies have shown that meditation:

Is the experience of restful alertness
Increases intelligence growth rate
Improves memory
Increases orderliness of thinking
Increases productivity
Provides for greater job satisfaction
Improves relationships between family and friends
Increases physiological, psychological, and sociological adaptability
Improves physiological, psychological, and sociological stability
Improves reaction time
Help to relieve stress and high blood pressure
Reduces the use of alcohol, cigarettes and non-prescribed drugs
Improves the rehabilitation rate of jail inmates
… and is just fun

A Zen Master once said that a single 20-minute meditation was equivalent to one life time of human growth.  Such is the benefit of closing the eyes and transcending the world of change.

People’s lives can change from suffering to greater happiness.  Your mood and vision of life mostly depends upon what is between your two ears – the content and quality of your mind.

Change hate to love, and embrace all that life has to offer.  The world is as you are.

The artist of creation sits silently behind each and every moment, waiting for you to discover.  Immersed in our garden of dreams we do not see through the veil of ignorance.  But the master weaver sows bliss and eternal consciousness into every fabric.  Just awaken, and be here now.

Maybe a leopard cannot change his spots, but you can.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 2nd, 2011 at 8:41 pm and is filed under Principles for better living. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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