16 September 2015

For each of us, this little life is precious

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I was walking with one of my students just before lunch yesterday and he found this squirrel, its back was broken and we picked it up and we sat with it for a while, trying to figure out what to do with this poor little thing. It wasn’t dead, I couldn’t work out how close to death it was and so what to do? And so I’m thinking, well, there’s part of this poor animal that is going to be in shock by being held by these brutes that it spends its entire life running away from; and part of me is feeling to give it as much love and care as I possibly could. So as I looked deeply at it, it was obviously suffering and yet was so surrendered, there was something so graceful about it in its suffering. He was a young male squirrel in his prime. He may well have just fallen from his tree chasing his young love. Looking at him he seemed perfect.
We held this poor little creature and then we thought; well let’s leave it somewhere peaceful so that if it dies it dies in its own environment. And we left it there in the long grass in the shade of a tree and I sent love to it as we meditated later and then I felt ‘Oh gosh, you know, dying alone. The poor thing’. And I thought, ‘have I done the right thing?’ – So I went and told Sati , my wife, who was cooking in the kitchen– and she said, ‘oh no, where is it, where is it?’ So we went and we brought it in and she picked it up and she held it in her hands and looking down at this dear creature in its plight. That is not something going on in your head. That connection to this experience that we are all sharing is not something going on in your head. And there it is, the life of this little thing, the life it has, in peril and it’s going to die. There is nothing you can do to help it but be with it. My first instinct had been to put it in nature in a quiet place so it could be left in peace and having done that I thought, ‘no, be with this little thing,’ and Sati held it, and she went to get, as she does, warm milk, and tried to feed it warm milk on the tip of her finger. And then at one point it’s little hand grabbed her finger, and it opened its eyes one last time…and there was something in its eyes, it was saying, ‘I see you, I’m here with you. You are here with me.’ And as it opened its eyes and passed away there was such an overwhelming feeling that it had been met.

Now how can you explain that? You can’t explain it, but you can feel it. Experiences such as this go on at a level far deeper than just our ideas. We know we’re sharing an experience and we feel it deeply even though we haven’t figured it out in our minds. This is ability to be fully in our experience, is something that goes on at the heart level. It is at this level that we are actually connected, and it has nothing to do with our ideas. It is when we start to lose that ability to connect and to feel that we start to lose the essence of what it is to be human. We need to reflect, what might it mean to lose that deep connection to life, because in the rush of life, and the overstimulation that comes with it these days, we all too often don’t have the time or attention to be deeply with the things that are going on around us all the time. As that little animal died in Sati’s arms, of course she felt bereft, stroking it, crying; ‘oh no, don’t die, please don’t die.’ And she sat with it for half and hour hoping that it would open up its little eyes again…and I could feel her pain, and who would want to lose the ability to feel that? And yet… We all too easily do…


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  1. Tessa Chislett

    I learnt this weekend that a friend’s daughter, who use come to visit me when she was in her teens and just sit and talk as teenangers do, lost her husband in a freak accident. So young to be a widower with a 3 year old – her husband in his early 30’s gone. Here I am taking care of my mum in law who is over 100 it doesn’t make sense to loose someone so young and to leave someone so young with someone even younger. My heart goes out to Emma bless her and quite right we have lost the ability to feel in this busy hectic lives we now live.

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