[T]he old stories of human relationships with animals can't be discounted. They are not primitive; they are primal. They reflect insights that came from considerable and elaborate systems of knowledge, intellectual traditions and ways of living that were tried, tested and found true over many thousands of years and on all continents.But perhaps the truest story is with the animals themselves because we have found our exemplary ways through them, both in the older world and in the present time, both physically and spiritually. According to the traditions of the Seneca animal society, there were medicine animals in ancient times that entered into relationships with people. The animals themselves taught ceremonies that were to be performed in their names, saying they would provide help for humans if this relationship was kept. We have followed them, not only in the way the early European voyagers and prenavigators did, by following the migrations of whales in order to know their location, or by releasing birds from cages on their sailing vessels and following them towards land, but in ways more subtle and even more sustaining. In a discussion of the Wolf Dance of the Northwest, artists Bill Holm and William Reid said that 'It is often done by a woman or a group of women. The dance is supposed to come from the wolves. There are different versions of its origin and different songs, but the words say something like, 'Your name is widely known among the wolves. You are honored by the wolves.'In another recent account, a Northern Cheyenne ceremonialist said that after years spent recovering from removals and genocide, indigenous peoples are learning their lost songs back from the wolves who retained them during the grief-filled times, as thought the wolves, even though threatened in their own numbers, have had compassion for the people....It seems we have always found our way across unknown lands, physical and spiritual, with the assistance of the animals. Our cultures are shaped around them and we are judged by the ways in which we treat them. For us, the animals are understood to be our equals. They are still our teachers. They are our helpers and healers. They have been our guardians and we have been theirs. We have asked for and sometimes been given, if we've lived well enough, carefully enough, their extraordinary powers of endurance and vision, which we have added to our own knowledge, powers and gifts when we are not strong enough for the tasks required of us. We have deep obligations to them. Without other animals, we are made less.(from her essay First People)
Linda Hogan
The secret of enlightenment is the absolute, unequivocal conviction that it exists.What does that mean? It means you have discovered an unshakable confidence in the fact of nonduality—in the perennial mystical revelation that IT IS . . . and I AM THAT. A confidence in that which can never be seen or known is the very ground of the enlightened state. Being is ungraspable, it’s unknowable, it’s ever elusive and yet it is the only place you can find true confidence in life. Why? Because it is the very source of life itself.The conscious experience of Being, which is what enlightenment is, has always been the ultimate answer to the most fundamental spiritual questions: Who am I? and Why am I here? Those who have tasted enlightened awareness find that in that experience, any trace of existential doubt and all the questions that go along with it instantaneously disappear. It’s not even that they are answered, but rather, the questions lose their meaning. When you locate the nonrelative, or absolute, nature of consciousness in the depths of your own self, it is experienced as a clarity that is empty of content; a weightiness that is full of nothing in particular; a profound knowing that dissolves all questions. In that questionless state, you find yourself profoundly rooted and radically free, supported by an absolute confidence in the knowing of no-thing that changes everything. The experience of that empty ground is the answer—the one answer that always liberates each and every one of us. You simply know, unequivocally, before thought, that I am. That’s the only answer: I AM. There is no why.
Andrew Cohen