Some People are Not People

The sounds of desert birds and crickets surrounded us in the darkness of the small theater at the Saguaro

(pronounced Sa-hwa-roh) National Park.

The Native Elder spoke to us about the beliefs of his people, his voice deep and resonant.

“We believe that not all people come to this earth as humans. Some people come to this earth in the form of the saguaro.”

“The saguaro is our brother.

If you harm a saguaro, you are harming your own family.”

The saguaro has something to teach us, in its silence, its stillness, its slow and steady growth well over a hundred years. Standing tall and unfluttered. Offering shelter to the desert animals.

In Yoga, too, we speak of the life force energy, prana, flowing through all things. Here is energy, disguised for a moment as you. Here is energy, disguised for a moment as this tree, this rock, this friend.

It is in this sense that we are all “one.” Many forms, many shapes and sizes.

Same life, same energy.

In this world of ours, where some people are killing and hurting each other even as we speak, it is essential for us to hold this awareness.

The saguaro is my brother.

The victims of the Paris bombings are my brothers and sisters. And in Beruit, and in Israel and Palestine. And in
nameless places all over the world, and…

Those who committed the crime are also my brothers and my sisters, even though they would kill me without a thought if they could.

The saguaro is my brother…

If I harm him, I harm my own family.

After visiting the park, I dreamed that I myself was a tree, deeply rooted in the ground, taller than the surrounding landscape, able to see very, very far.

Time slowed down. Way down.

Years became breaths, breaths became years. I could feel the sunlight shining in my leaves.

As a “tree” person I could see the slow march of “civilization,” both the destruction and the goodness of the human people.

I take solace in the things that last longer than a “people” lifetime. The stately mountains. The graceful trees. The stones, weathering each millennium like an ordinary day.

To these “people” of stone and wood and spiny fiber, keeping steady watch over the planet, as the stars and suns wheel across the sky, year by year, by thousand years, we humans must seem so insane.

And yet here we are. Human people. Able to love, and empathize, and take the long view. When we remember.

The saguaro is my brother.

I must take care of him.

heart handsAlthough many human people do harmful things, they cannot destroy the light of love that we hold in our hearts. It burns bright in many of us, and always will, even though it can grow dim, for a time. I am carrying a torch for Paris tonight. And for all our relatives who are hurt, or hurting. They are not beyond love.

In closing I would like to share a meditation that has been evolving through me in my practice. It combines loving-kindness, drawn from Yoga, and heart-breathing, drawn from Equine Facilitated Learning. Hit “reply” to this email and I will send you a link to access it.

In gratitude for the horse people, who have been my friends for a long, long time. And for all our relatives, people of all kinds, not just human. They all have much to teach us.