Friday, May 13, 2011

Animal guides

This dip back into the western world is turning out to be quite remarkable from the standpoint of perspective and where I would like to head next. I have always struggled with how to train horses to do a human oriented task (riding, driving, etc.) and keep their signature spirit in tact. After traveling and experiencing/seeing horses in new conditions, I am more convinced than ever that all of it is a compromise. They are not designed for these tasks, but we persevere in our beliefs. ( Now I can add camels, elephants, donkeys, and oxen, to the list of living under the "rein" of man's appropriation of animal harnessed power.)

For over four years, I have questioned my role in the horse community. Some believe that I am a compassionate beacon in the horse community who helps set a standard for humane training. But I never felt it was good enough. Now I understand why. There are very few animals that physically and mentally fit easily in to the role of riding or driving horses. Yes, they can do it, but can they do it naturally? Can a Sumo wrestler jump over a high bar? Can a marathon runner shot put? Yes to both, but can they do it with ease?

After my experience with Gurudev and now being back with my animal family, I have even more gratitude for their presence and teachings on this planet. The communication with animals is mostly from within. The conversation relies on body gestures, mental images, and sensing into the energy field. As my horse nuzzles me, the cat is rubbing up against my leg, and the goat is resting her head on my knee, it doesn't matter that we all have different appearances. The four of us are silent, but sharing a moment together out of caring. These are the moments that I would take refuge in when the world at large was stressful. I found this place while sitting in the ashram, but without my animal family. Over the years, the animals kept leading me to this place ("You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink."), but now I am ready to drink or deepen into the watering hole experience.

The emotion of sadness comes up with the thought of leaving them all behind, but my heart now leads me to this watering hole. A very deep, inner longing to know this place more fully: to finally know myself and who I am. "Who dwells inside this skin sack?" How is this speck connected to the whole? At the ashram, I had small glimpses of the limitlessness and the "reality" behind what we (humans) consider real. The quietness of the ashram, the guidance of the guru, and limited life distractions support taking a long drink instead of just a sip.

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