Category: Elephants

Lessons from an Elephant in Bondage

Lessons from an Elephant in Bondage

article-2682388-1F6E1EA200000578-509_634x523The story had been circulating through Facebook for about a week now and I had been avoiding it because I knew it would upset me. But today I felt the courage to read it.

article-2682388-1F6E1EBD00000578-369_634x661An elephant in India had been in bondage for 50 years. Not just tied up for half a century but shackled with piercing bonds around his ankles. He was forced to hold out his trunk and beg for coins from passers-by and survived only on plastic and paper for food. A group of rescuers (Wildlife SOS) heard of his plight and saved him. Under cover of darkness they took 10 team members, 20 forestry employees and six police officers to help him. They took Raju fruit as they fought with the owner who was illegally mistreating the animal. Their words soothed him and nurtured him as much as the food he so desperately needed. As they began to remove his spiked hobbles and chains, this magnificent creature began to cry. Real tears.

article-2682388-1F6E1F4F00000578-992_634x956As I read the article I too began to cry. Tears for the elephant—this beautiful, kind soul. Tears for the rescuers and their profound compassion. And yes, tears for the man who mistreated Raju.

article-2682388-1F6E23B400000578-803_634x475I pondered the story all day and what I came to understand is how Raju is a powerful teacher for us.

The mind is a powerful tool in our lives that can turn into a slave master. It can create shackles, even spiked shackles, that hold us back, keep us stuck and create a living hell where we are enslaved to starve spiritually and emotionally. Our beliefs can become so powerful that we cannot realize there is a better life available.

article-2682388-1F6E1EA700000578-231_634x422How do we become slave to our mind? Simply by allowing it to create scenarios based on beliefs about who we are and what we are capable of doing. If we grow up believing we don’t deserve happiness or that we’re stupid or we’re not talented…or whatever negative belief we hold…we reinforce this belief by practicing it. It’s like playing golf and developing a bad swing. It’s not that we really want to play badly, we simply build on a faulty or inefficient swing and our game gets worse.

So if our mind enslaves us, then what frees us? What becomes the rescue team that unties our bindings and frees us to stand and grow into the fullness of being?

It can begin with a simple question: What if I’m wrong? What if the beliefs I hold about myself are incorrect? What if I am smart? What if I am creative? What if I’m capable of living my potential? What if I can commit to a relationship? The list is endless.

article-2682388-1F6E1E0200000578-486_634x414If we begin to feed ourselves mental food that is nourishing, the shackles gradually begin to loosen. In other words, we become our own rescuers; however, we don’t have to do it alone. We can form friendships that nurture our wholeness. We can join groups that empower us. We can practice good self-care, however that looks for each of us. We can nurture our dreams instead of deny them.

It is our birthright to fully develop into the potential we were born with and to express the gifts that are part of our soul experience. We can shine brightly and fully when we stop abusing ourselves, stop allowing others to do so and fully embrace the abundant richness of spirit we are meant to experience. We hold the keys to the Kingdom of Love and Light…and the keys that unlock the shackles into which we have locked ourselves.

article-2686961-1F876BE400000578-224_634x421It’s difficult to make sense of such mistreatment of our brothers and sisters such as Raju but if we take a bit of time and seek the lessons contained within, we honor their pain and suffering as we use it to gain better understanding of our own lives. We all have the capacity to be the abuser, the abused and the rescuer. Which do you choose to be to your self? To others?


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Blue Heart of the Planet

Blue Heart of the Planet

simone (2)When the weather doesn’t cooperate with my exercise plans I use the elliptical trainer. I’ve been watching TED talks while working out–specifically the series on the Ocean. One of the presenters referred to the Ocean as being the ‘blue heart of the planet’ so on this first day of spring, I wanted to celebrate the Ocean….the one massive Ocean that covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and contains 97% of the planet’s water (NOAA).

We know that the Ocean is the lungs of our planet. Although estimates vary, somewhere between 70 and 80% of Earth’s oxygen is produced by phytoplankton in the ocean. Rain forests and trees are very important and provide the other 20% to 30% of vital oxygen.

Dr. Sylvia Earle reported in one TED Talk that 90% of the Ocean’s big fish are gone. Ninety percent….gone. This is directly the result of overfishing…taking fish faster than they can reproduce.

simoneI was thinking about the interconnection of the Ocean and all life on the planet. Truly, if the Ocean dies, humans will die…unless we learn to breath a mixture of less than 21% oxygen. Divers know better, so do scientists….and physicians. We simply cannot survive on less oxygen…at least not for any length of time.

After watching the TED talks, two stories came to my attention that broke my heart. First, over 200 manatees have died this year due to red tide or an algae bloom in Florida waters. Red tide is caused by a combination of factors that can include warm Ocean temperatures, high nutrient content (from fertilizers and sewage effluent) and low salinity (that might happen after heavy rain). Manatees are endangered and their recovery was looking very good so this is a major setback. You might not care about manatees so why should it concern you? The algae associated with red tide can cause respiratory distress in humans and can make people sick if they eat shellfish or fish that have eaten or been exposed to the algae. That interconnected idea…it’s for real!

The other news was especially difficult to hear and even though it doesn’t involve ocean animals directly, it is a species genetically related to manatees. A story on NPR told of how poachers are killing African elephants in numbers so great that their numbers have been reduced 62% in ten years. A reporter told of witnessing 100 men on horseback rounding up herds of elephants and using assault rifles and grenade launchers to kill elephants for the ivory trade in China. Diplomatic jets from China transport the ivory back where the growing middle class and upper class pay over $1300 a kilo (2.2 pounds).

Overlay image of dolphin necropsy taken from a baby dolphin in Key West
Overlay image of dolphin necropsy taken from a baby dolphin in Key West

Can you imagine our planet without elephants? Or manatees? Can you imagine humans capable of murdering innocent animals such as elephants…or dolphins like they do in Japan? Innocent creatures.

The heart of our planet is in danger and not just the blue heart. It seems as though the collective human soul is filled with violence and greed. While listening to the elephant story I sobbed and screamed….I am so angry about human arrogance and greed. We are capable of such love and beauty and at the same time capable of unspeakable acts of violence and aggression.

simone (3)
One of the TED talk scientists spoke of how easy it is to become overwhelmed with all of the horrible things happening on our planet. His suggestion was to do everything you can in your own life and then choose one place or one animal on the planet and call that your project of hope. Support it, educate people about it, study it. If we focus on everything that’s wrong we get depressed, angry…we become ineffective. But if we work on our home life and that one special project of hope, we can continue to be an advocate for positive change in the world.

Now is not the time to give up. It’s not too late. As Sylvia Earle said, “The good news is there’s still 10% of the big fish left on the planet.”

simone (4)May our hearts join together in support of the blue heart of the planet and may there be a collective awakening of love and light. Nothing else will create the change that is necessary for planetary health…of which humans are an important part.