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Lions Roar : Nov 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2007 46 THE SONG OF THE TASTE Eating the living germs of grasses Eating the ova of large birds the fleshy sweetness packed around the sperm of swaying trees The muscles of the flanks and thighs of soft-voiced cows the bounce in the lamb’s leap the swish in the ox’s tail Eating roots grown swoll inside the soil. Drawing on life of living clustered points of light spun out of space hidden in the grape. Eating each other’s seed eating ah, each other. Kissing the lover in the mouth of bread: lip to lip. This innocently celebratory poem went straight to the question of conflict between the ethics of ahimsa, nonviolence, “respect for all beings,” and the necessary lives of indigenous peoples and Native Americans I had known. They still practice ceremonies of gratitude, and they never present themselves as superior to other life forms. Ahimsa taken too literally leaves out the life of the world, and makes the rabbit virtuous but the hawk somehow evil. We must see the organic world as a great feast, a puja, to which we are the invited guests, and also, sooner or later, part of the meal. We can be grateful for that. We can enter into the process, but with grati- tude and care, not an arrogant assumption of human privilege. This cannot come from “thinking about” nature; it comes from a being within nature. There are plenty of people of influence and authority in the churches, industry, the universities, and high in government who still like to describe nature as “red in tooth and claw” (a line of Alfred Tennyson’s)—a fundamental misunderstanding—and use it as part of the justification for the war against nature. I WOULD NOW like to propose some simple definitions: The English word “nature” is from Latin natura, “birth, constitu- tion, character, course of things,” and ultimately from nasci, to be born. It connects with the root nat, which is connected with PATRICIOROBLESGIL/FIRSTLIGHT The Wandering Albatross navigates the southernmost portions of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. These birds were photographed on the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. NOV 40-47.indd 46 NOV 40-47.indd 46 8/29/07 2:09:50 PM 8/29/07 2:09:50 PM