I walked along a desert wash that ran for miles through brilliant sands. I turned and saw a buffalo.

It was not imaginary. In front of me, was a buffalo. Shocked and awed, I stared at Its enormous head and face covered with curly black hair. Its coat was long and brown. Its horns curled gracefully. It was massive.

Suddenly I heard a voice, I knew not from where, asking, “At what are you looking?”
I responded, “A buffalo.”
The voice answered, “ What kind of buffalo?”
“A Bison,” I said.
The voice rejoined, “Oh, There used to be millions of bison. They are gone now. Do you know what happened to them?”
I answered, “Only in a vague way”.
The voice said, “Tell me what you know”.
I said, “During the nineteenth century they were murdered for their hides and flesh. They were even slaughtered to starve Native Americans ”
The voice asked, “How many are left?”
I said, “Very few. Recently, there may be a bit more, as people now raise them for food.”

“Oh”, the voice said, “MASS MURDER! Who is responsible for this mass murder?”
I could only say, “I don’t know, other than people in my country, America.”
The voice asked, “ Are you an American?”
“Yes”, I said.
He said, “So, you are a mass murderer!”

Indignantly, I insisted, “ Oh no, I am not. I am a healer! I heal those who ask for help. I teach healers. I am an author of books on healing.”

The voice said, “How strange, I thought you were a mass murderer.”

With hurt feelings, I demanded, “How could you think such a thing?”

After some silence the voice answered, “Because I saw the automobile that you drove to the edge of the desert .”

I writhed in embarrassment.

Then He said, ”You seem like an educated man.”
“I am ”, I said.
“Good”, he answered, “What is the relationship between gasoline, the internal combustion engine and carbon dioxide?”
In a moment of horrid remembrance, I mumbled, “I know the numbers . . . One gallon of gasoline, combusted in a motor, creates twenty-five pounds of carbon dioxide.”
The voice then said to me, “Oh, so you are a mass murderer. You know where that carbon dioxide goes and what it does!”
“Yes,” I mumbled, “it is principally responsible for global warming.”

The voice said, “What do you mean by that?”
With my head hanging I said, “The polar ice caps are melting, the seas are rising and warming, the air temperature is changing, there are forest fires, droughts and floods. Many species die.”
“The voice said, “Oh, you are a mass murderer.”

Then there was silence. I continued walking, but no longer happily.

A while later, I was staring at some flowers.
The voice resumed, “What are you looking at now?”
I said, “Yellow flowers.”
He responded, “Do you know their purpose?”
“Sexual propagation,” I said.
The voice said, “Yes, sexual propagation is good, do you know why?”
“Defensively, I said, “I would be speculating”.
He said, I will explain.”

“You and everything else that is alive, are here for an extremely short time. You have nothing to do but to perform your task, to live out your years, and when you are done, you must return everything that you have borrowed. This will enrich the soil with what once was your body. Then there can be another to assume your task. So, you must propagate.”

I walked in silence for an hour, then stopped to urinate.

Again, I heard the voice as it said, “What are you doing?”
In irritation I said, “I’m urinating”.
“The voice said, Ah, urinating is good, do you know why?”
“No,” I said. Trying to avoid this lesson.

Undeterred, the voice said, “One has borrowed water from the earth, cleansed one’s body, and then returned what one has borrowed. Now it can serve another.”

As the voice seemed done, I continued hiking for quite a while. My attention was drawn to an old juniper bush that had fallen into the wash. Its bright color was gone and now it was gray.
The voice asked, “At what are you staring?”
“I said, “it is a dying juniper.”
The voice said, “You and the juniper are alike. You are both parts of life, and you are both old. He is done with his task— to hold the soil together at the edge of the wash. This is no longer possible,so he is dying. Soon he will return what he has borrowed, his matter. It will decay in the earth, just like your matter will. Life is brief. Do your task and then return what you have borrowed. You are no different than anything you see. You are no different than any other animals or plants. You live on the earth. You live upon it because it is fertile and because you have been given life. Now, look around. They are all you. You are not different than all else that lives. You are all one.”

After a while I heard, “You told me that you were educated. What is a human being made of?”
I recited from some long ago classroom, “About 75% water, plus carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and iodide.
The voice said, “Good. That is almost all of the ingredients—except the important one.”
I said, “What is that?”
He answered, “One spark of life. You know, I could arrange for you to have all the water you need. I would allow you to take any minerals from the desert sands, but you could not make a Man”.
“True”, I said.

Again, the voice said, “Just pay attention. They are all you. You are not different or separate from all else that lives. All of you are one. A little water, a few minerals and The light.”
Now, sit down and we will finish this lesson.”

I sat in the sand.

The voice stated the next lesson: “If humans imagine they are different from all that is, they will allow themselves to be murderously destructive.
You are an old man. Your parents are dead. Surely, as a son, you took care of your father’s burial. Did you make sure that everything he borrowed was returned?
I said, “Not exactly.”
“What kind of answer is that,” the voice chided.
Lamely, I tried to explain. “Where I live, one cannot merely put a body in the ground.”
“Really?” He said.
“Yes”, I said. “One must drain the blood from the body and replace it with embalming fluid. The tradition is to then put the body in a coffin. A concrete vault is poured into the ground, the casket is lowered into this vault. Then one shovels earth on top of that.

“How,” the voice asked, “could this possibly aid your father in discharging his obligations”?
“I did what was conventionally correct,” I said.
The voice said, “Conventionally correct for human beings! If humans imagine they you are different from other life, they will allow themselves murderous destruction! Now, I want you to finish this life without forgetting my words. Do your task. See all as one. Return what you have borrowed!”

The voice said, “You will know when it is your time to die. I would like you to come here, to this place. You know how to get here. When you arrive, I will keep you company while you die and help you to return what you have borrowed.”

I turned and stumbled back through the sands.

This is what I experienced.

Who spoke to me? I heard a voice.
I can only submit this account of my experience. The teaching was simple, upsetting, yet life changing. By renaming our environmental crises as mass murder.

Whose spoke? I don’t know.

It changed my perception of my behavior. It corrected my imagining that we humans are the central fact of life.

[The buffalo was real. On my way back I saw it again. By this time the light had changed and I could see that we were separated by barbed wire. Inquiring nearby I was told that it was a “pet”.]

Author's Bio: 

THE AUTHOR

Warren Grossman has spent twenty years paying attention to basic reality—
What it is like to stand on the earth,
and to lie on it;
How to love as a moment-to- moment choice,
not how to wait for its fortuitous occurrence.
How to heal others by loving;
How to encourage these natural abilities in others.

He has done this by
moving beyond his career as a psychologist,
spending hours outdoors, paying close attention to the meeting place of his body and nature, and opening his heart, to intentionally love people in need.
This is the time-honored process of healing.

He fills his days healing those in need, training healers, and, writing to you.