How a Lion Tamer Came Face to Face With Death… and Life

South African author and lion tracker Boyd Varty learned early the deep knowing which life seeks to instil within each of us: that there is something profound which transcends and connects our discrete human minds.[ii]

Varty’s tale of the terrifying involves a single night, set in time a moment or two following the initial post-apartheid elections in South Africa, when chaos and violence were common bedfellows across the troubled nation.

不出戶, 知天下.

不闚牖, 見天道.

其出彌遠, 其知彌少.

是以聖人不行而知.

不見而名,

不為而成.

Without stepping out the door,

You can know the world.

Without looking through the window,

You can see Heaven’s Way.

The longer you travel, the less you know.

Therefore:

The sage knows without traveling,

Perceives without looking,

Completes without acting.[i]

Lao Zi, Tao de Qing, chapter 47.

South African author and lion tracker Boyd Varty learned early the deep knowing which life seeks to instil within each of us: that there is something profound which transcends and connects our discrete human minds.[ii]

Varty’s tale of the terrifying involves a single night, set in time a moment or two following the initial post-apartheid elections in South Africa, when chaos and violence were common bedfellows across the troubled nation. Barty was but eighteen years old at the time, and he and members of his family were staying in a house in Johannesburg. The nightmare began when Varty was shaken awake, and driven to instant alertness by the sight of a gun being pushed into his face. The young man looked to his left and right to see that his mother and sister were both bound, the male house invaders in complete control of the fate of Varty and his family. Pure terror saturated his being, for he knew well that such incidents often end in rape or death. Or both.

Varty sat fixed with shock, powerless. But things were about to get worse for the South African youth. Moments later he was led outside of the house by the intruders. He relates what occurred next, as follows.

They put a gun to my head… and they basically said, “Now we’re going to kill you.” And the fear was so intense. Then I remember looking up the barrel at the man who was holding the gun to my head and we looked into each other’s eyes. And in that moment something happened… I can’t say what happened…  You might call it the peace of God that surpasses understanding. But I think it was too big for my ego structure to hold, and it collapsed. And as I looked at him all fear left me, and all concern for my own bodily safety left me, and I just felt a profound human connection with him. And as… there were three of these guys standing around me, as that moment happened it was… kind of a weirdness came over everyone. It was as if everyone had become glimmered. And they put the guns down and everyone just stood there confused. And I walked back inside totally unaccosted in any way. And I got the car keys, walked back out and I gave them (to the intruders and) said, “Get in that car and leave.” And they did.

In the years that followed, Voyd Barty contemplated often the happenings of that “bizarre” day.

I felt like I glimpsed through the most terrifying situation… That was the first freezing experience that I had. It was terrifying… I think sometimes of Jung’s description – of what is unconscious will be made conscious. It will manifest into your life until you become more conscious about what you’re carrying.[iii]

What was it that came over those four men in that moment? There was something intangible that Varty says appeared to visibly “glimmer.” Some structure of consciousness, or perhaps spirit, that transcended them as individual men living separate lives. And separate deaths. This transcendent connective field of consciousness is what I call integrated intelligence. By definition, integrated intelligence is within us all. And beyond us all. And it is what Part 3 of this book is all about.

This is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponised World.


[i] Stefan Stenudd, (n.d.). https://www.taoistic.com/taoteching-laotzu/taoteching-47.htm. Retrieved April 18, 2021.

[ii] Tim Ferris, Boyd Varty. https://youtu.be/sCVJUZlokEU. 14 March, 2022. The quoted section here has some small edits. I have removed some repetitious use of words, as the story is narrated verbally by Voyd Barty in his interview with Tim Ferris.

The University of Suffering