I dont kill flies because I dont see myself as having the right to terminate the life of any creature unless it is absolutely necessary. If I can help it,why should I put an end to that wondrous organism,pulsing with life,a force I do not comprehend and which no human being,no matter how knowledgeable, can create?
For that reason most of the time I do not eat meat or fish. When I am particularly hungry I have been known to forgive myself for breaking that rule but I do try to keep it and I succeed most of the time. I also realize that my eating eggs is a breach of my rule but I am working on that one.
Animals desire to live, like humans also desire life. Like humans they also have families which they often love and care for. Yet certain creatures on the third planet from the sun have convinced themselves that they have a right to feed on their neighbors who are weaker than they are.
In a science fiction story the Martians who take over the earth and live on the planetary surface, while keeping humans exiled underground, breed humans as food.
Another reason why I try not to eat fish or meat which I hardly mention when giving explanations because people are likely to have difficulty understanding it: I aspire one day to be able to move in the forest with the fearlessness of a person who knows he will suffer no harm because he shares an identity of being with all the elements that make up the forest.
Why should I aspire to what might look like a strange ambition? Is the forest a proper place for human beings? Is it not for animals and plants?
Sorry. The forest can be a very good home away from home for humans.It is not easy for me to describe the absolute serenity of a forest,particularly a forest not built by humans and demonstrating the atmospheric density of virgin nature. Such an environment could lead you to look again at the fever that human beings choose to describe as life,as one English poet put it. I am working on making a summative statement of my experiences with the forest.
The other day I killed a fly and have had cause to regret it.
I regret it because even though I was able to achieve the peace I wanted by killing the fly I now realize that the goal for which I killed the fly was only partially realized.I think taking the fly's life was not worth it.
The fly had kept buzzing around the room when I was struggling to concentrate on some new and most tantalizing ideas buzzing in my head.
This happened some weeks ago.It occurred to me yesterday,however,that after killing the fly,I had peace around me. Quiet and calm but the ideas did not buzz in my head anymore.
Had I disrupted the flow of inspiration by taking time off to kill the bothersome creature?
Had I killed an embodiment of my friend Esu,the Yoruba/Orisa deity,one of whose incarnations, Esu Queso is associated with cockroaches,rats and maggots,who share feeding habits similar to those of flies?
My contemplation of Esu as mediated through his symbols,my efforts to converse with him,my invocation of him using magical techniques,my public celebration of what I understand as my relationship with him,my offering him a sacrifice at the crossroads outside my window in the English village where I live, have gone hand in hand with a consistent flow of inspiration,of steadily ripening ideas,including the flow of ideas represented by this essay which I suddenly felt compelled to write in the midst of a restless encounter with ideas while writing another essay about Esu.
What does this contribute to understanding of the reality of inspiration?
I am working on understanding that.
It certainly works for me and I will keep it up.
On the issue of the fly, I have begged Esu to forgive me. I have asked for another chance. You never know about these things. If the creator of the cosmos could be described as visiting the earth in the form of a carpenter's son from Galilee,why not as a fly? It too is a wondrous construction,intricate and pulsing with the holy fire,holding together perfectly articulated wings,legs,head,fantastically detailed eyes and other perfectly synchronized and operational physical features.It certainly has a mind and uses it because it knows how to dodge me when I am chasing it.Is this ability to evade my intentions purely instinctual? I doubt it.
One of my favorite quotes ever is from the sublime work of Indian philosophy and Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita. It is this declaration from Krishna,described as the embodiment of the creator of the cosmos: "Having permeated the universe with a fragment of myself,I remain".
A Hindu holy man once chastised a beggar for placing his feet on a stone object revered as a symbol of the god Shiva. The beggar placed his feet on the ground only to have the same symbol spring up instantly on the same spot. The beggar then asked "Where will I place my feet where the Lord is not?" The holy man bowed,realizing he was in the presence of the transcendent one,far yet near,sustainer of cosmos from the beginning to the end and resumption of time,Shiva the cosmic dancer. This story resonates with another declaration,which if I remember well,comes from Krishna in the Gita: "If you pray to the stone, there I am".
Next time I will do my best to make the fly depart peacefully through the window rather than kill it no matter how long it takes to persuade it to do so.
It had actually occurred to me just after terminating the little one's store of the mysterious fire that animates all living things,including myself,that here I was,snuffing out a quality that is unique in the cosmos just because I wanted some quiet. The incommensurate exercise of power in that would have been chilling if not that one has grown up to see animals and insects as dispensable lesser creatures, an attitude one is working to grow out of.
It was when I was looking at another fly that it occurred to me that the inspirational buzzing of ideas in my head that led me to kill the fly to enable me listen better to those ideas could be likened to the buzzing of the fly.The buzzing in my mind made me restless and yet attentive all at once.
Or am I engaging in the self validating thinking of believers in the irrational, a style of thinking which is at times inspirational?