Updated: Sep 7, 2020
How could engaging seriously with the thought of the heart change the way that see and act in the world?
I wrote the poem ‘Caterpillar’ featured below several years ago to express the searing pain and grief that I felt in my heart when I witnessed slugs and caterpillars being cut up with scissors to prevent them from ‘destroying’ a vegetable patch. The experience deeply affected me and I still find myself getting emotional about it today.
Of course I understood the ‘logical’ reasons for doing this (i.e., saving food for the people needing to eat from the vegetable patch), however, I simply couldn’t shake the feeling that something very different could have happened if viewed from another perspective.
The experience got me thinking about how these acts, and many others like them, are currently ‘rationalised’ within the materialist perspective of the world. For example, a label which creates emotional distance - such as ‘pest’ - is often given to animals which appear to be in the ‘wrong’ place; and from this point of reference it is then deemed okay to send in the ‘exterminators.’ But how might the heart re-frame this label? From the heart’s point of view, all are living beings, sharing their world with us. (See also my blog about dialoguing heart-fully with nature)
My life’s work is to learn how to better sink into the heart space and to learn the heart’s language. Through the heart’s compassion and kindness, I am learning that that there are other ways of knowing and being with others, which currently lie hidden behind a materialist philosophy (putting man at the centre of all things and denying life/sentience to anything which is ‘other-than-human’). These heart-centred ways of knowing could potentially lead us to more harmonious and sacred relationships with others within which such acts might not need to occur. Indeed, from a heart-centred viewpoint, it might be possible to enter into ‘imaginative consciousness’; wherein one deeply contemplates the life of the caterpillar, slug, wasp or mouse endeavouring to live their own life within which vegetation and wildness is increasingly shrinking due to human expansion.
From their own frame of reference, could we be the ‘pests’?
The reason for this blog is to point to the dynamic relationship between everything that we come into relationship with - be that animal, mineral or vegetable – and the potential for harmony through the honouring of this connection through the open, loving space of the heart. Within this connection, there is no hierarchy; simply two beings in union endeavouring to really hear one another and find ways of acting which honour the needs of both.
Indeed, a wonderful example of this was about eight years ago when my husband and I found a large number of black fly in the greenhouse eating the tomato plants. There were so many of them that we really believed that we would lose the entire crop. However, we intuitively knew that we needed to communicate with them, so we entered into the imaginative space of the heart and connected; honouring the black fly and their needs, but also asking them to honour us and the fact that we were looking forward to eating some of the lovely red, juicy tomatoes too! Later that afternoon, we went back into the greenhouse and to our amazement, over ¾ of the black fly had gone. While one tomato plant had been devoured by the black fly, they had actually left us with three plants full of tomatoes which we thoroughly enjoyed!
Maybe on some level I will never fully ‘rationally’ understand what happened that day, but I know that something incredible happened when I entered into a deeper, heartfelt relationship with the black fly, and trusted.
“Within this connection, there is no hierarchy; simply two beings in union endeavouring to really hear one another and find ways of acting which honour the needs of both”
I am Caterpillar
My home is the broccoli plant in the vegetable patch
I live here with my family; we are happy
In times of plenty we feed until we are full, as we don’t know when we will be able to eat again.
I enjoy warm sun on my body on a late summer day
I shelter from rain drops
I get scared when dark shadows fall
Will I be eaten today, or will I live to eat some more?
The broccoli plant is my home
The vegetable patch is my village
The garden is my country.
I haven’t travelled very far
But I love where I live.
When you are next in the garden, sit next to me a while and close your eyes
Connect to me – yes, I can hear you
Can you hear me?
If you have enjoyed this blog and are inspired by the work we do at the Heart Sense Research Institute, please consider making a donation through our Just Giving page or getting involved in any way you can to help us share our message. We desperately need your support to help us continue with our important work; giving the heart a genuine voice in relation to global challenges and exploring ways of living that honour all life and enable all life to flourish. The earth and all beings thank you!