P. B. Shelley wrote, “Life like a dome of many colored glass,
Stains the white radiance of eternity”.
Yes, the Eternal is One, but when it is manifested it takes up myriad forms and colors. When I take an objective view of things and look all around, I find the western world, during the last few centuries, have done almost all the solid good works in all fields of life. It would require pages to enumerate all of them. But here I would like to confine my observation on one field only; namely, the observation of nature, its flora and fauna.
Just a few days back, I was watching some videos on Animal Planet channel. The kind of intelligence that goes to make one such video; the knowledge of behavior of animals, birds, reptiles or fish required to take close shots of them in their natural habitats; the daringness and fearlessness required for photographing dangerous animals in their lairs in land or under water; the infinite care, concern and compassion with which they handled the dumb creatures etc. are simply awesome and mindblowing. In one such video while the presenter, Austin Stevens, poked his head and torso into a cramped hole where a large python was resting for the day, with only a camera in hand, I got a nasty shock with my heart beating at its peak.
What I observed in all such videos was that in nature everyone ate everyone else, sometimes even members of one’s own species. In the beginning I got a lot of pain witnessing this daily dose of so much killing and cannibalizing others for food. In fact, even now I have not been able to completely get over this uneasy feeling. But I became gradually accepting to the inevitable. If it is the way of the world, who am I to resist or raise my objections? And who is there to listen to them ? I am just a tiny tot or dot compared to the vastness of the creation. So gradually, one after another of my objections dropped and I tried to ferret out a meaning of life out of this seemingly meaningless, inchoate and chaotic life, instead.

One day while watching fascinatingly a most interesting animal life video, a terrible thing happened and something clicked in my head and I began to see some meaning in all this mayhem. It was a video of a large pack of hyenas succeeding to hunt down a buffalo cow with her calf. Clearly the calf was their target. In all animal huntings, the calves, the ailing and the old and the weak are the first ones to succumb. Hunger drives all mercy out of the predators. The hyenas ran down and attacked the calf first but its mother came to its rescue. The cow valiantly fought for some time with anyone that came to its calf. Very soon the hyenas divided themselves into two groups. The larger group attacked the cow, clearly not with a view to kill her, for to kill a prey of her size was fraught with too many risks; but to separate and effectively shield her from coming to her calf’s rescue. The other group, the smaller one, attacked the calf and began straightaway tearing it apart and eat, now unhampered by its mother having been separated and held back by the larger group. The cow fought on with the pack but ultimately got exhausted and overpowered by sheer number. Then suddenly she stopped fighting and stood still watching her calf being eaten by the hyenas. Now barring for just one or two hyenas guarding her, all members of the larger group too had joined the feast. She stood there transfixed for some time watching her calf, just a few feet away from where she stood, being devoured, being gulped down and vanishing by the minute at a rapid rate into the mouths of the pack of hyenas. I wondered what was going on in her mind during those silent moments of watching.

Was she calculating the risk and reward ratio of that situation for herself ? Would she gather all her last bit of energy and recklessness to launch another attack ? Did she realize that her calf was now dead and past saving, in fact now half eaten ? Won’t it be suicidal to disturb so many hyenas in their feast all alone by herself ?

Then the cow did a thing which was not one among the options I had considered in mind. Abruptly she took a complete about turn and marched away with a quick pace and walk and, what seemed to me, a purposeful one too. There was no look of being lost in her eyes. Sure enough, no hyenas were after her this time. What could be its purpose ? May be to flee away from a pitiless battlefield ? To wrench herself physically away from a most harrowing sight ? Maybe if she stayed there any longer she might be the next prey of that pack of warring and fighting and hungry hyenas for which the meat of a calf might not have been sufficient to satiate their hunger? May be all these, but to me it seemed as if her purposeful walk was declaring a grand Truth which I have not yet learned fully in my life.

It was saying, as if, “What is the use of crying either over spilt milk or over a battle that is all but lost? It was my baby. Didn’t I love it to its fill ? Did I leave anything to make it happy? It was a gift to me, but now it has been taken back. What could a cow do against that ? Didn’t I fight as energetically as I could, when called on to fight? But now when the battle is lost, why cry over it, why carry an attachment with just one painful outcome? Why not carry the whole of life with me, with all its possibilities and all its outcomes? ” She knew by instinct that it was not for her good to identify with a pain, to overpersonalize it. If she did that that would only create more suffering. She knew that pain is but unpleasant sensations. Suffering is the story, the dramatics that people put around it. Suffering is pain that’s gone to mind, pain that’s doing time in mental cells, mental hells. As such, suffering is unhealthy separation from pain. She knew that as we become more intimate with our pain, we find that we are less troubled by it. So for her awareness is utmost important. Awareness upstages suffering, dissolves its grip on us, taking us to the heart, the core, the epicentre of pain. And there, in that place of hurt, we meet not more hurt, but more of us. More healing, more peace, more sacred welcome.

I knew she was heading straight towards her herd from which the hyenas had separated her and her calf. I knew the nursing mother in her would pine for her calf for many days, especially when her udder would be full of milk and pressing against her. But I also knew that she won’t desperately try to hold on to her memories of the calf for long. She would just let them come and go as they pleased. She just knew that memories were not the real things, they were not her lively and lovely calf. What was the use of holding on to such dead memories ? After all who was going to live here forever? She just knew by instinct how to flow with things, how to let things be and allow them to unfold. I knew she won’t even any longer hold any grudges against those hyenas who only did what they had always been doing, just as she did what she had seen all mothers always doing. I also knew that soon the urge to live would reassert in her, soon life would choose to flower even through her. I knew too that a couple of months down the line, she would allow an insistent bull to mate with her and by this time next year she would be a mother again with a lovely real calf beside her.
She had actually had no attachment with any one thing or outcome but with the whole of life itself, which frequently included pain and death too, besides love, tenderness and joy.