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Yueya

Animalwise: A Parable for Wayfarers

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Good.  Nice philosophy, though a bit preachy at times.  I liked how the story and pictures of old Longears came together, particularly the one showing him meditating by the Buddha statue. 

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...particularly the one showing him meditating by the Buddha statue. 

 

Indeed, possibly to be human in his next life cycle or maybe it was one already in its last incarnation. Who knows.

 

I have encountered something similar in real life...some lady in a health-related conference suddenly starting talking about the Buddha and how it represented the perfect being free from defilements, karma and rebirth. Then I saw in her what she was in her past life and clearly understood what was the purpose of that comment. It was striking but glad to see she already developed wisdom as a result. It was actually a wonderful experience and my belief that humans are capable of so much good and gain wisdom.

 

Sorry for going a bit off-topic, not trying to hijack the thread.

 

Anyway, wonderful photo and thanks for sharing your story about "Possum." :)

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Yes, very nice story.

 

A pleasant mixing of the Mystery (wu) and the Manifest (yu).  Even a bit scientific with the evolution stuff.

 

Have humans evolved further than we really needed to and it is that that will bring an end to our species?

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Animalwise: A Parable for Wayfarers

 

Let me make it plain from the start. I‘m a proud and tough possum fending for myself in the wild. My one quirk is an uncanny interest in the strange realm of humans. They fascinate me. There’s a rustic old hermit’s hut with plenty of trees nearby within my territory that I like to regularly visit. It’s an easy climb up onto the iron roof.  I love to run around and make a racket when I'm in the mood. It annoys the hell out of that peace loving hermit. Even better, I regularly sniff out small gaps and squeeze my way inside. There’s so many mysterious things for a possum to explore.

 

A few nights back, whilst hot on the trail of freshly baked sourdough bread, I chanced upon a book lying on the table. Mind you, that’s not unusual. This old hermit is a cultivator of the Daoist and Buddhist way and has many books on the subject. I’ve browsed some of them while he sits oblivious in mediation, and I can tell you it baffles me why he needs books when we are all intrinsically of the Way.  Every animal knows that, expect it seems it’s lost to humans. But that’s a mystery for another time, and this book wasn’t one of those anyway. It was a children’s book.

 

There’s something about the look and smell of these battered, big type, brightly coloured hardcover books that touches my heart. Maybe it’s a memory of a simpler time. A time of wonder and easy enchantment when I too was child-like. I nibbled that very tasty bread, and pawed open the cover. It was a book of riddles. My eyes came to rest on a familiar conundrum. It totally grabbed my attention for an instant, until the sound of danger jolted me. That old hermit was on my tail wielding a broom.

 

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Humans! Now there’s an enigmatic species for you. Sometimes I despair of ever understanding them. They have so much yet never seem satisfied.

 

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Back with my daughter in the safety of my Tallowwood tree the riddle stayed in my mind.  “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”  I’d heard it before except in our possum version it’s an eagle chick. When I first heard it as a youngster in PossumTree school my imagination was stirred and my reason challenged. I was drawn to its koan like impossibility. Now the riddle had become almost a cliché for “don’t even bother to try to understand this one”.  It reminded me how easily curiosity about life’s mysteries fades as one grows older.

 

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I was chewing it over the next evening with some of the local wallabies. Wallabies are the true sages of us timeless ones; wise but invisible in their actions, helping but not intruding, absorbing cruelty without becoming vengeful. I have a lot of respect for wallabies. Most of us wild animals live a life Zhuang Zhou could only dream of. We have no possessions. When tired we sleep, when hungry we eat. We are masters of living in the moment. But within this tradition wallabies stand out. To me they’re bodhisattvas, though they themselves shun all labels and tell me that they are simple followers of the way of nature. Anyway, our discussion of the riddle soon led to the revelation of knowledge which is apparently well known within the wallaby lineage - but was certainly new to me. They gave me some interesting insights.  Interesting enough to stir me to write them down.

 

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The wallabies have their own story on the purpose of human life. It’s told to all joeys at an early age to help them understand this strange and sometimes aggressive species. Considering its ancient origins I was surprised that, to the best of my knowledge, no possum had ever heard it before. But then that’s what wallabies are like. It takes patience and a Zen like empty mind for their stories to unfold. If you approach them with strong opinions, which being a possum I can't help but do, they'll scarcely dispute you. It is their nature to go along. So in my ignorance I often thought the wallabies agreed with me. It is only now as I grow older and less sure of anything that I’m able to see them in a different light. What I perceived as passivity and ignorance is in fact a manifestation of the contented detachment of true Daoist sages. For ones that lead such humble lives, the level of abstract thought that pervades the wallaby kingdom always surprises me. My encounter with this extraordinary analogy, which is after all just part of a parable for joeys, only reinforces my admiration for them.

 

 

The wallabies liken human habitation on our planet to that eagle embryo growing inside its shell enclosed biosphere. Their analogy underpins major issues that wallabies, indeed all us animals, face every day as our habitat - indeed our very lives - continues to feed human growth. We are being eaten up, just like that yolk. But to my dismay, rather than condemnation and anger, I heard  a worldview shaped  by an entirely different paradigm.

 

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Old Longears, an elder (pictured meditating), explained further. “That eagle embryo uses the yolk to grow and eventually breaks out of its shell into an unforeseeably large world as an eagle chick, and then grows into a magnificent eagle able to soar through the skies. This is how things are; the joey grows from an egg, the tree from a seed. So too a similar process is occurring on an abstract level. Humans are experiencing remarkable evolutionary change. It is a difficult era for them.  Their collective consciousness is like the embryo of a new life-form – one that's invisible to our eyes. It is a subtle entity, honed by intelligent reason, with empathy as its heart and the creative arts in its blood.”

 

“They’re using the resources of our planet to build a web of interconnections between living minds. The larger the consciousness, the more energy needed to power it. I tell our joeys this is the way of things. It's neither right nor wrong - it just is. Like how our brains evolved from single celled organisms, constantly growing in energy needs along the way.” 

 

“Human consciousness is a part formed, resource hungry thing.  At the most basic level those countless interconnections mean massive infrastructure. Many thoughtful people understandably feel anxious inside their finite resourced biosphere, aware of their growing numbers and ever increasing appetite. There's consternation too at pollution caused by clumsy technologies, and of the competition and greed that energizes much of the growth.”

 

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Old Longears continued in the seemingly nonchalant manner that I’ve learnt belies the natural  wisdom and profound trust in the Way of these earthy macropods.  “I‘ve heard the present period referred to as the sixth great extinction. This one caused by humans. So many of our fellow species are being lost.”

 

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“I tell our joeys in this difficult time our role is a simple one. We must live as wallabies have always lived. We must carry the knowledge of our possible destruction lightly and behave as if we live in blissful ignorance.  We must help keep environmental stability in the midst of human flux by maintaining our traditional way of life. It’s our role within the great Way.  We eat grass, we nurture our young, we play. We flee from danger. In death our bodies feed dingoes, our rotting carcasses, goannas. Our life is clearly delineated by our wallaby instincts. Our presence could be a marker for humans of the vital diversity of organic life, of the evolutionary wisdom we all embody. We are a tiny part of this intricately interwoven ecosystem, complexly alive on levels humans are as yet unable to comprehend.  Our world is their world and all life is interconnected.”

 

To me it sounded like gross injustice. “Why should humans occupy centre-stage? What about our rights?” I wanted to talk about a more secure future for animals, about actions we could take to protect our way of life. You know – protest! I was already thinking of all the roofs I could stomp on in the middle of the night. But their lack of response reminded me wallabies aren't ones for confrontation. They've been around a long time, just listening; watching the world unfold, solid in their wallaby nature. Old Longears said, “Think about the parable. All new life is needy and only knows how to take. It needs wise, warm and sometimes tough nurturing. Consciousness is no different. Humans like to think it's about them but really it's about the ongoing evolution of life itself. It's a fundamental wallaby belief that a healthy consciousness must eventually embrace the totality of biological life which hosts it.”

 

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I wasn't so sure myself but I knew I was still hungry. And food was all around. After a long period of peaceful eating in the noble silence so characteristic of us animals I came upon Zirana (pictured above, left). Her joey had just been on an adventure outside the pouch and her face still glowed with the excitement of it all. Old Longears once hinted that she was their wise one but I'd never heard her speak. So it surprised me when she said, though seemingly with reluctance, “Have patience dear possum. We're witnessing evolutionary change here and that's millenniums slow. Each retained adaption is the survivor of countless blind alleys and failures. Consciousness lives across the tensions created by difference. It needs meaningful dialogue between opposing perspectives in order to develop healthy and strong. It thrives on tackling appropriate levels of problems and conflict.”

 

Us possums are always fighting over our territory and our mates so I could relate to that. We never seem to learn anything new though. Maybe lack of dialogue is our problem. But at least we're stable in our wants, unlike humans with their never ending need for more. “Zirana, your notion of our planet as somehow nurturing an emerging transcendent consciousness may be all very well for wallabies but I want to live my life my way, for me. What if humans bring catastrophe on us all?” She looked at me as if I was a joey who still didn't understand, “Human exceptionalism creates a tendency towards hubris, it's true. That power bestowed by enhanced awareness is a gift but also yokes them with a great burden. It’s lost them their innate animal wholeness so they can no longer live simple, spontaneous lives like us. They're increasingly feeling uncomfortable with the consequences of their actions because their empathy sphere is expanding too. Concern for the welfare of our whole planet is slowly gaining traction. We don't judge them harshly. Consciousness thrives at the edge of chaos. Truly, dear possum, consciousness is the new form of complex life evolving here. It has its own evolutionary imperatives, its own will to survive. Individual wishes count for only a little within the great pattern of life. We are all like straw dogs in this game”

 

The encroaching dawn brought an end to our nocturnal ruminations. I was glad too. Interesting as it was, there's only so much a possum can accept. As I climbed up into my favourite Tallowwood tree hollow for much needed sleep, the thought foremost in my mind was “I shall do my best to survive, proudly, as the autonomous individual I surely am.”

 

The Possum                                                   

 

bump,

 

nice story

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On 4/17/2015 at 5:21 PM, Yueya said:

All new life is needy and only knows how to take. It needs wise, warm and sometimes tough nurturing. Consciousness is no different. Humans like to think it's about them but really it's about the ongoing evolution of life itself.

 

On 4/17/2015 at 5:21 PM, Yueya said:

Consciousness lives across the tensions created by difference. It needs meaningful dialogue between opposing perspectives in order to develop healthy and strong. It thrives on tackling appropriate levels of problems and conflict.

 

On 5/20/2016 at 6:33 AM, blue eyed snake said:

Human exceptionalism creates a tendency towards hubris, it's true. That power bestowed by enhanced awareness is a gift but also yokes them with a great burden.

 

On 4/17/2015 at 5:21 PM, Yueya said:

Truly, dear possum, consciousness is the new form of complex life evolving here. It has its own evolutionary imperatives, its own will to survive.

 

Excellent treatise. Very well written and enjoyable to read. Thank you!

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