Beauty and the beasts
This photo was taken by researchers at the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya and reveals the depth of compassion that creatures feel for each other in their moments of need. It shows Grace trying to help another elephant - Eleanor, after she had fallen to the ground, having been bitten by a snake.
Grace was heard calling out in distress and making desperate attempts to get the stricken elephant on to her feet. The two elephants were from completely different families and yet Grace still came to the dying elephant's aid and persisted even though her efforts were in vain.... Eleanor's great weight compressed her internal organs and by the following morning she was dead.
This report reminded me of another from Jim France of the Pavilion Hotel Group in Bangkok, in the aftermath of the Asian Tsunami:
At a resort on Phuket, one of the most popular attractions was the elephant ride. As many as eight people would sit atop one elephant, who would escort the tourists into the surrounding forest, down to the beach, to lunch at a fresh water lagoon, and then back to the hotel. A team of nine elephants was kept chained to in- ground posts, not because they were dangerous, but because it made tourist mothers feel safer when their children fed the huge animals.
Twenty minutes before the first wave hit, the elephants became extremely agitated and unruly. Four had just returned from a tour and their handlers had not yet chained them. Suddenly the four helped their five peers tear free from their chains. Then they all climbed a hill and began to bellow; many people followed them up the hill. Then the waves began to crash. After the tsunami subsided, the elephants charged down from the hill and began to pick up children with their trunks. Once the kids were in place, the elephants ran them back up the hill to safety. When all the children were taken care of, they started helping the adults.
The elephants rescued 42 people. Not until the task was done would they allow their handlers to mount them. Then, with handlers atop, they began moving wreckage.
How smart is nature? Is life communicating to us everything we need to know? Are all living things connected by a deep layer of Presence? Surely, if we believe only in physical laws, evidence-based-research or the scientific method, then we have to use the most obtuse and convoluted reasoning to dismiss or explain-away reports like these.
While we tend to regard nature as brutal and impersonal, it is filled with compassion. Every one of us is imbued, from the ant to the whale, humans included...... with the capacity to know exactly what to do to help each other. If people or animals seem cold or unkind, it is not because we were created that way. It is because we have learned defensive habits from generations sullied by fear.
Several years ago at the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago a three year old boy climbed a retaining wall and fell 17 feet onto the concrete floor of the gorilla pavilion. The child hit his head and fell unconscious in the midst of a group of gorillas. The boy’s mother went hysterical, onlookers were horrified, and several people ran to summon zoo officials. Before anyone could get to the boy, a gorilla named Binti Jua, with her own infant on her back, brushed away the other gorillas and took the unconscious child in her arms. As the crowd watched astonished, she tenderly carried the child to the door of the gorilla cage and handed him to an attendant. Later that year Time Magazine designated Binti Jua as the recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year award.
While these incidents seem astonishing, they are far closer to our nature than the cold-hearted manner to which many of us have become accustomed to living. Love is natural and bitterness is learned. Yet what was learned can be unlearned, and the truth of our inherent kindness tends to reveal itself when we most need it.
Acts of kindness are expressions of our true nature as spiritual beings. The media focuses so much attention on terrorism, perversions and crime that we come to believe that this is our basic nature. This is bullsh*t... it is not so... it is simply a fearful reaction to mistaken perceptions of powerlessness and hopelessness.
It is difficult to overcome fear, suffering or desperate circumstances directly, because it is ultimately only Love that overcomes fear, in whatever form it appears to take. Perfect love casts out fear perfectly.
At any moment we can choose to recognize the Love that is already (and always) alive within us, and then trust this in whatever endeavour, relationship or circumstance presents itself.
This is the choice for defencelessness instead of attack.... for our inherent strength and kindness over our perceived vulnerability.
Life seems to present many trials but (I believe) they are all, only ever, some form of fear made manifest. And so each one offers us this opportunity to recognise and express our true nature, our shared Presence.... to let the elephants lift us to higher ground.... and in doing so we are both freed from the illusion of powerlessness.
 From a report in the Daily Telegraph.