The kittens slept, wrapped up next to and between my legs. Then, they rose, ate, cleansed, eliminated, and romped. Now, there is a moment of quiet.
My friend Joyce is now a docent at Tor House in Carmel. She sends me this quote.
I believe that the universe is one being, all its parts are different expressions of the same energy, and they are all in communication with each other, influencing each other, therefore parts of one organic whole.
from Robinson Jeffers, The Poet of California.
What a way to start the day. Jane and I worked today with St. Patrick's Day. I was jubilant that day, thinking and feeling my treatment was over. How deluded we can be, and yet, I was so joyful. I wouldn't have it any other way.
The lessons are many, and I sit here now, reaching for some coherency to them all.
Temple Grandin, is autistic, and would have it no other way. She loves how her brain organizes and sees patterns. She thinks in pictures. She doesn't know what it would be like to have the emotional life some of us wallow in, so she doesn't miss it. She is content. She has designed livestock-handling facilities so cattle go to their death, calm and content. I recommend her book, Thinking in Pictures, and Other Reports from My Life with Autism. I am going to re-read it, since this experience, seems to have spun my brain on a centrifuge. Where am I now? Who? Perhaps, Temple's words will give me a cattle chute of my own.
Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces.
In reading Temple Grandin's book Thinking in Pictures, I come across her comments on her experiences with estrogen. Too much drives her nervous system into hypersensitivity and anxiety attacks. Too little and she is irritable, and her feelings of empathy and gentleness are gone. My estrogen supply has been shut off. What does that mean for me? Have I learned enough of empathy and gentleness that there is no affect? I do not seem to have the joint pain that is also a symptom. It is odd to read her account of manipulating herself for performance through biochemistry. It is also a concern if everything is not considered. She does consider all, and monitors herself well. I suppose it is for each of us to do, as we notice how we are influenced by medications, vitamins, foods, environment and exercise.
Temple designed humane ways to kill cows. She is proud of her work, feeling she understands death, and the importance of doing what lives on after we die. She sees the place where the cattle die, as sacred. Death is a part of life. Death, this way, through her methods, is more humane, than would be experienced out on the plains.
She believes in karma and says that shows up at the quantum level. She feels animals have souls, and she says there is a difference between us. "It is long-term altruism. During a famine in Russia, scientists guarded the seed bank of plant genetics so that future generations would have the benefits of genetic diversity in food crops. For the benefit of others, they allowed themselves to starve to death in a lab filled with grain. No animal would do this. Altruism exists in animals, but not to this degree. Every time I park my car near the National USDA Seed Storage Lab at Colorado State University, I think that protecting the contents of this building is what separates us from animals."
I wonder on that. There are some amazing animal stories, and I am gratified to hear of the sacrifice of the Russian scientists.
She writes of holding and keeping animals calm while a rabbi performs shehita. She felt one with the universe, as though she were in a Zen meditational state. "Time stood still, and I was totally, completely disconnected from reality. Maybe this was nirvana, the final state of being that Zen meditators seek."
"I thought about the similarities between the wonderful trancelike feeling I had had while gently holding the cattle in the chute and the spaced-out feeling I had as a child when I concentrated on dribbling sand through my fingers at the beach. During both experiences all other sensation was blocked. Maybe the monks who chant and meditate are kind of autistic. I have observed that there is a great similarity between certain chanting and praying rituals and the rocking of an autistic child. I feel there has to be more to this than just getting high on my own endorphins."
She writes in her diary. "When the animal remained completely calm I felt an overwhelming feeling of peacefulness, as if God had touched me. I did not feel bad about what I was doing. A good restraint chute operator has to not just like the cattle, but love them. Operating the chute has to be done as an act of total kindness. The more gently I was able to hold the animal with the apparatus, the more peaceful I felt. As the life force left the animal, I had deep religious feelings. For the first time in my life logic had been completely overwhelmed with feelings I did not know I had."
She concludes that we need to live in the balance of feeling oneness with the universe, and doing, reforming, and changing the world.
She also has this to say. "The physicist Roger Penrose, in his book the Shadows of the Mind, and Dr. Stuart Hameroff, a Tucson physician, state that movement of single electrons within the microtubules of the brain can turn off consciousness while allowing the rest of the brain to function. If quantum theory really is involved in controlling consciousness, this would provide a scientific basis for the idea that when a person or animal dies, an energy pattern of vibrating entangled particles would remain."
She interprets God as the entanglement of subatomic particles causing a kind of consciousness for the universe. I am pulling out from what she says, but certainly the idea is intriguing and comforting. She says, "The idea in Eastern religion of karma and the interconnectedness of everything gets support from quantum theory."
And this I read and hear, again and again.