By Stuart Camps, Fear-No-More Zoo
Several days ago, here at The Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary, a much beloved and long-lived cat named Chewy finally died. The night before Chewy passed away, a young pygmy owl, Tulewhos, whom we had recently taken in as a fledgling to raise and hopefully release, also died, for reasons we are not certain of. Both animals were given a twenty-four hour vigil where they were honored in sacred fashion, and then were buried side by side in Fear-No-More Zoo's small graveyard. After opening the burial ceremony, which then proceeded more or less spontaneously, I found myself drawn into a process that seemed informed and directed by the qualities of the two animals I was performing my last service to in this life. I was burying a domestic cat and a wild bird, together, as a pair.
After offering an invocation and waving a candle and incense, I dug each animal's grave. Then I waved the light and incense over the graves, and sprinkled sacred ash into each of them. Next I took the owl's tiny body in my hands and, slowly moving my arms in a clockwise circle, I offered him up to each of the Holy Sites on the Sanctuary. I performed this puja or sacred ceremony for the sake of all non-humans, and for the owl himself and his own unique relationship and service to the Divine. Then I took Chewy's stiff ginger-furred body in my hands, and I offered her up in the same manner. I was drawn into deep Contemplation during the entire ceremony.
Adi Da has spoken at times of how what humans do, how we live with one another and with the natural world, is generating great imbalances in the lives of all non-humans today. This particular ceremony, in part, seemed mysteriously to touch into the heart of this matter, somehow signaling both the difficult effects that human-kind is having on all others, and the inherent mutuality of all beings no matter how opposed some may appear to be toward others.
I sprinkled leaves on the floor of each grave, and then laid the bodies in place, and added flowers and ash. Then I once again waved the candle and incense over them, invoking their inherent unity and balance with all of life, and intending the same toward all beings. Finally I broke earth over the bodies with my hands until they were both neatly buried. After closing the ceremony I planted a stick of smoking incense in the earth-mound above each of them.
Laughing Man Creek runs right by the graveyard here. I stepped down through the blackberry vines to wash my hands and sit on the pebbled beach in the cool shade for a while. It was a hot afternoon. The graveyard sits on a sharp bend in the creek, with the water running directly downhill toward it. When it reaches the graveyard the stream abruptly changes its course, as if perhaps hinting at the way a life's direction seems to change when each of us passes over. With my hands pressed onto the cool pebbles under the shallow water I gave a silent prayer that a new direction would soon be realized in the pattern of our own species' effects on everything else. This burying, side by side, of owl and cat, perhaps humble on the large scale, communicated to me at least the need for this re-balancing, and evoked from me the heart-gesture toward serving such a change more deeply in the service we do here.
When I had held the cat and the owl up high in my hands, beside the creek, I was drawn to feel their lives, and the impersonal quality of mysterious death as well -- theirs and mine. Looking upon the two bodies, one furred and the other feathered, laying side by side in a burial ceremony which communicated so much more to me than just their individual deaths, I felt deeply served by their innocence and mutual need to be understood. And more than this, I felt their calling for us to understand ourselves and how we live here among the non-humans. They had both taught me much about surrender, peace, and action. May I be as intelligent and profound as they. And I trust that I can serve the non-human beings as they have served me.
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******Fear-No-More Zoo is one of the seeds of a great Vision of Avatar Adi Da Samraj, a Vision of all beings living in right Spiritual relationship with one another, informed by the Gift of Contemplative surrender to the Very Divine Being. Adi Da Samraj: "Fear-No-More Zoo is a sign that My Work extends beyond human beings. It provides Me with a point of contact with non-human beings. The more I get to do what I intend there, the more you will observe it." To find out more about Fear-No-More Zoo, or how to support this Great Vision, or to get on the mailing list, please write to: Fear-No-More Zoo, 12040 Seigler Springs Road, Middletown, Ca, 95461 USA. Or email:
******Animal Bytes are created to serve the connection between humans and non-humans everywhere. Feel free to forward these stories to friends and family who would enjoy them. If you have stories of your own, we'd love to hear them, and maybe even put them in Animal Bytes. Animal Bytes, as a non-profit service, uses stories from many sources. Where known, all sources are credited accordingly. Fear-No-More Zoo hopes you enjoy these stories. May they help to connect you to the mystery of this mostly non-human world.
© 2002 The Da Love-Ananda Samrajya Pty Ltd, as trustee for the Da Love-Ananda Samrajya, claims perpetual copyright to the entire Written (and otherwise recorded) Wisdom-Teaching of Avatar Adi Da Samraj, and to all other writings and recordings of the Way of Adidam. All rights reserved.