The Teachings of Some Insect Planetmates: Knowing the Truth Doesn’t Make You Paranoic, It Makes You Pronoic.
While not approaching the profundity of the above revelation from Hermann Hesse, I have an example of this sort of teaching coming from the physical world occurring in my own life recently. The previous section on Siddhartha was written a while ago, but this event of mine happened only days ago and, by strange coincidence, at the same time that I was contemplating the posting of the section from Hesse.
A week ago, my wife and I picked up our trailer on our annual sojourn South for the winter. It had been stored on a friend’s rural property, deep in the California farm country, three hundred miles North of our eventual destination and six hundred miles from our origin.
Now, my wife and I are both spiritual and pacifists, totally uninclined to kill anything, even insects. The death of other things is inevitable in living … we are not fools about it … but we try to learn a different attitude from what we were taught and try to see if peaceful coexistence, if not outright harmony and love, is possible with all that exists.
So our first inclination was to see how the wasps would react if they were simply left alone. We were not deluded in our efforts. Where they were clustered in spots we needed to use, I had to kill off entire families. As near as I can make out … and I’m still not sure … their nest is in a vent above the stove, accessible from the outside and allowing entrance to the inside. But it is not something I can get at to dislodge it. Still, they left us alone and were mysteriously absent except when we were in direct sunlight, when they would become agitated and would come out.
So after our minimal mopping up campaign, we continued down the road the hundreds of miles to our destination. You would think the little invaders would be swept away by the sixty mile per hour winds blowing through their home. But they were not.
Day after day when the sun would be the greatest they would come out. On the second day of this, they were out in forces that reminded me of Hitchcock or Stephen King movies. Scores if not a hundred of them flew above and around us. I had flashbacks to scenes from “The Birds.” One particular image from “The Hunger Games” came to mind, where the tracker jackers attacked and covered one unlucky contestant, stinging her into a puffy ghastly death.
Nevertheless, I tried to remain calm, lying on my bed, wondering what the proper response should be. I mean, this was extraordinary. My cat, Muff, who had been curiously focusing on these creatures at times, at this point looked up at me from the floor with wide terrified eyes and let out a meow of terror and confusion. Also, being the guy I felt it my obligation to protect wife and cat at any and all costs, even if it meant throwing my body between wasps and family.
Still, I was keen to find a different way than all-out war. I know that is what we need to do if we are to survive on this planet (saying this even now as a wasp friend of mine just came in and circled around my right hand as it was typing before flying on over to the window again). So at this time of full infestation, I stopped and watched and remained calm, having faith that Hichcockian horrors only exist in fantasy, not God’s real world.
Meanwhile, my wife went into action. To my amazement, she got out a Mason jar and its lid and began enticing one after another of these beasty things into it then releasing them outside. She encouraged them to leave by keeping the door open as well. I knew this was futile because they could and would come back inside, most of them. Or they would retreat to that inaccessible nest that we could not get rid of despite the hours of freeway driving. Still, I was awestruck by her complete lack of fear in her task. She was as aware as I that we could not live calmly in a tiny twelve by seven trailer with hundreds of wasps buzzing about our heads and filling the air all around. Yet she methodically and without a trace of skittishness, let alone fear, went about collecting and removing our unwanted visitors.
Knowing we could not live like this and realizing that my wife’s choice, while admirable, was ultimately futile, I watched and pondered my course of action. What came to mind was Sathya Sai Baba’s words on this, which were that though you should never kill another living thing, you must of course kill insects inside your house.
So, being also aware that there is no death anyway just transformation of consciousness from one form to another, I must confess I went about helping these tiny beings along in their “transformations.” I was inspired by my wife’s example of fearlessness, too, and with respect for each and every one of them, and with love and appreciation for their existence, I went about ending said existences for them, one after the other.
They were amazingly stupid and inept. They apparently were literally born yesterday, as I began to consider what might be the short and brutal life spans of wasps. I could easily kill or disable them with the sole of my sandal. They were much less able to withstand blows than comparable insects such as flies or mosquitoes. They were unbelievably less nimble. And they, unlike said flies or mosquitoes, did not return or retaliate either. I swear, I’m not sure they could sting you except by accidentally backing up into you! They seemed to have enough trouble just dealing with their confusion of being in an enclosed space with patches of light they could follow but which did not lead to any open space and was blocked to the outside … with glass, you see, or similar obstruction. I watched them going crazy on every sunlit window. They moved in endless ritual processions of futility.
Between both of our efforts we reduced the numbers of the invaders to a livable number—less than ten visible at any one time. And we relaxed again into our routine. It was at this point that again I could return to my pacifist approach of peaceful co-existence.
I lie there on my bed watching these insect planetmates, wondering what it was like to be them. I held no animosity toward them … quite the opposite. They were rather cute. They careened about on newly formed wings, their many legs, arms, and stinger bottoms dangling below. Jerking left and right as they flew peripatetically about, I was reminded of cartoons of such insects—Disney-like and from commercials. Hardly offensive these depictions, they were charming and affable. All this overlaying my perception, these youngsters from a different kind of mother seemed like infants trying to walk. They were charming and delightful. It filled me with warmth and love to feel this connection to another life form, which in my way of thinking could easily be me, have been me, or is me right now being a part of me I’m not presently aware of. At any rate, I felt love for them, and from them for all creation extending out from them. There was a palpable love filling up all space around me and I bordered the euphoric as I welled up in the poignancy of it all. Tears came, in apprehending such beauty and love.
And it occurred to me that this encounter with the wasps was like our relations with all things. Oh yes, we know the parable of the frog and the scorpion: The frog and the scorpion have an arrangement for the frog to carry the scorpion on his back across the stream (a wasp just said hello to the underside of my left wrist just then, as I was typing, and continued on). In exchange for this service the scorpion says he will not sting the frog. But in the middle of the stream the scorpion stings the frog and they both drown. The frog before dying cries out, “Why did you sting me? You know we will both drown!” The scorpion answered. “You should know I can’t do otherwise. For it is my nature.”
Well, watching the wasps I thought of that parable and had a different way of seeing it. Of course beings will do what is in their nature. I might even get stung by a wasp. But I might also get hurt by another human. I might get slighted or slandered in a way that is a great deal more painful than any insect bite.
And aren’t they much the same? Do I refrain from relationships because they can hurt me at times? No. Do I seek to kill off all other humans on the chance that one of them might hurt my feelings at some point? Of course not! So why do we kill off insects that would even more infrequently harm us?
More importantly, I realized that just as we could accept a sting from an insect, knowing it was only doing what is in its nature and not taking it personally, we could also see the people in our relationships that way: They only do what is in their nature, we do not need to take it personally. And as long as there are not too many of them—these hurts or such people—we can live in peaceful co-existence with potentially hurtful humans, knowing that the stings of relationship are almost always unintentional.
Indeed, it occurred to me that all things can live in peaceful harmony and co-existence if we but notice the love and attraction all beings have for each other—which truly is our divinity…that tendency to want to be One again. If we can remember that all beings are more likely frantically focused on getting to a light that is mysteriously blocked off and hardly intent on hurting us …. if we can recall that like wasps the stings from others are unintentional byproducts of the ritualistic machinations of their struggles to be free … then perhaps we can let go of those horror picture fears that the world, and its people, would swarm over and hurt us, if given the chance. Of course we occasionally get stung, but, unlike the frog, we hardly drown from it. No. To know the truth does not make one paranoic. It makes one pronoic—that is, inclined to believe that the rest of the world, given the chance, is out to love us.
Continue with The Spiritual “Code” That Is Written In Reality: Matter As Metaphor, Part Four — In the Tiniest Details — Mushrooms, Fire, Butterflies, and Morphogenetic Fields
Return to Matter As Metaphor, Part Two: Taught by Nature, by That Which Is — The Heights of Learning and Transformation Possible in Wide-Angled Contemplation of the World
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