Friday, April 30, 2010

Hearts Slowly Opening


The Summerhouse on the grounds of the Capitol. It is one of the most healing locations in Washington DC.

A big ole gassho to Jack Kornfield, the Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hanh, Sharon Salzburg and all the many others who brought Buddhism into the minds and hearts of Americans.

Though I am not now, nor have I ever been a Buddhist, I, like many Americans, have borrowed/studied Buddhism. Everything I've learned has helped me so much, as well as benefitting all the people I interact with. Buddhist practice has made me kinder. It's such a good thing! There are so many different kinds of Buddhism, of course, but some of the basic practices, such as the importance of sitting down every day to be quiet for awhile, mindfulness, and non aggression, are absolutely beautiful, practical, and evolutionary, too.

I've been reading this week about how scientists have suddenly discovered that chimps grieve much as we do. Surely it was possible before now to notice this behavior since we've been spying on our cousins for decades. That we have just now noticed, and that scientists are writing about it all of a sudden, is such a great sign of the emerging empathic society. I credit the Buddhists for opening our minds and hearts, I do.

What I hope is that these same scientists put two and two together one of these days. What I'm saying is, I hope they realize, sooner rather than later, that imprisoning monkeys and experimenting on them for our own benefit is absolutely cruel and inhumane. Zoos? Equally cruel. Hello? Are any of you guys listening?

Apparently not. When I googled "grieving chimps" this morning, I found reference to several articles just published a day or two ago by scientists who think further scrutiny is needed to "prove" that the chimps are grieving. Dudes. Sit down and meditate. Watch the footage again. Open your minds and your hearts, please?


Facing west from the front entrance of the Summerhouse.

24 comments:

Marian Wiseman said...

So excited. First one to comment.

I hate zoos. But I hate circuses even more.

ellen abbott said...

Zoos always depressed me.

But really? It took them this long to figure it out? Social animals grieve. Anyone who has ever had two dogs and one of them dies knows this.

Expat From Hell said...

I am with Ellen on this one. Having had two dogs and now one, it is undeniable that they experience grief and a sense of loss. Don't forget Thomas Merton, the monk-theologian who actually passed away while hanging with the Buddhist monks in China. Love these pictures, Reya. EFH

Barry said...

Scientists are so frightened of b being accused of Anthropomorphism (the attribution of human characteristics to non-human creatures.) rightly seeing this as a possible "experimenter bias".

However they don't seem to have the same fear of the opposite bias, a refusal to recognize that we humans are part of the animal kingdom and that a refusal to acknowledge a clear sign of grieving in apes is creating a falsely elitist position for humanity.

Not to mention freeing us to treat the other creatures who share our planet with considerable cruelty.

Butternut Squash said...

I'm with you. Prayers for the enlightenment of all sentient beings.

I forgot how sensual that Summerhouse can be. Beautiful photo.

Steve said...

I couldn't agree more! (Although, in defense of zoos, they do study and help propogate endangered and threatened species.)

Sometimes I think scientists get so blinded by the need for concrete proof that they forget to use their strongest tool -- their brainpower and intuition. I've always heard that elephants grieve as well.

The Bug said...

Isn't there a video making the rounds about an elephant & a dog who are best friends? I don't know who can watch that I not think that animals don't grieve. I agree with Steve - get out of your head you scientists!

Reya - I've given you an award - with no expectation that you'll accept it. I know you don't do awards. But I wanted everyone to know how much I love your blog! So there!

http://danabugseyeview.blogspot.com/2010/04/honest-scrap.html

Reya Mellicker said...

Dana - thank you! I'm always honored to receive awards ... I'm just not great at follow through - doing all the stuff you're supposed to to pass it on. All bloggers deserve awards.

As a kid I tried not to go to zoos. Whenever I went, I wept, something that gave others the chance to tease me about.

Elephants are noble beings, powerful, moody, intelligent. Yes, they grieve. Tam, Janelle, Val and Miranda have taught me SO much about elephants. Wow.

Meri said...

Their education must have covered their hearts. Can anyone see that mother tending her dead baby, carrying its lifeless carcass on her back, and not know that she's bereft and disbelieving, hoping against hope?

Elizabeth said...

I'm with you on the Buddhism .
Gosh, do I try hard to be mindful.

Sending you sunshine and a peaceful weekend.....

Linda Sue said...

Scientists MUST BE SURE!!! By the way- whatever you do- do not see "the Cove"...save yourself- I repeat- do not even go near it!
anything with animals in it is sure to be sad...and now we have oil taking out fragile estuaries and and and...so goes it with stupidity.

Reya Mellicker said...

I've been warned about The Cove. No way I'll see it. I don't have to. Also didn't have to see Food, Inc.

I could hardly watch the footage of the chimps once.

Mine is a tender heart.

steven said...

reya - the very tiny and the very big - feel. they all do. differently, but they feel.
the beautiful space in the top photograph - oh wow! i was at linda sue's blog the past few days and she was in a place that had that same quality of care. steven

Tom said...

there will be a great reckoning, one day, as many of God's creatures seem to have hearts...and human-kind is the most heartless of all--probably the natural evolution of a sentient species.

Whales come to mind, i've heard they grieve, too.

Nancy said...

Thank you, Reya! I'm with Marian. I quite buying tickets for disadvantaged children for the Shriner's Circus because they refused to quit using animals. I love the Shriners. Their hospital gives free care to children that are burn victims. This, at the same time burn centers are closing all over America. But I just cannot condone the use of animals in these conditions. I would be happy to give the same, even without the circus, but they have refused so far. I truly hope Buddhism has the same effect on society that it has had on me, especially when it comes to the animals of the planet. This was an important post.

Snowbrush said...

I'm reminded of Descartes who marveled that God could so excel at making animals appear to suffer without them REALLY having the human capacity to experience suffering. When one is that blind, I feel hopeless.

Val said...

keri got a chill wondering how they will further their research into whether chimps grieve or not. but i share your hope that we may be inching into a more empathetic society - we have been slower than granite thus far! quick quick before its too late...

thank you to the Buddists for their passively progressive role in our evolution

x`v

Val said...

that should read "I got a chill"

who is keri??

xx :-)

lettuce said...

I remember Jane Goodall saying that she wasn't listened to early on by some scientists because they couldn't afford - intellectually or emotionally - to see their animal experimentation in a different way

but really - once you move away from that assumption that the way we interpret each other's behaviour doesn't apply to other species - everything changes.


lovely photo. I have happy memories of sitting here with you. Wow, exactly 2 years ago!

Pauline said...

We've noticed all right but there's money to be made and notoriety available in publishing research and there's profit to be realized in zoo keeping. Then there's the matter of setting out to prove we are the top of the heap, the end-all-be-all of creation, that we are better, and more highly evolved, than other living things. Silly us.

Paul C said...

That's the most beautiful garden entrance I have ever seen. I marvel at the ornate brick work.

Also I like your title. How sad what's happening in the Gulf.

John Hayes said...

I am constantly baffled by scientists' surprise when they "discover" that animals are sentient beings with complex emotions.

Snowbrush said...

"I am constantly baffled by scientists' surprise when they "discover" that animals are sentient beings..."

I would be astounded if many scientists are surprised. I think you over generalize.

Reya Mellicker said...

Snowbrush I'm sure you're correct.