He became aware that the doctrinal differences among Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism are not anywhere near as important as doctrinal differences among Christianity and Islam and Judaism. Holy wars are not fought over them because verbalized statements about reality are never presumed to be reality itself.
Robert M. Pirsig
In the Okanagan, our understanding of the land is that it’s not just that we’re part of the land, it’s not just that we’re part of the vast system that operates the land, but that the land is us. In our language, the word for our bodies contains the word for land, so when I say that word, it means that not only is my ability to think and to dream present in that word but the last part of that word also means ‘the land’.
I felt understanding and I knew he knew that we were there to save him, not to kill him. I felt ashamed that we had failed. I felt powerless and angry, frustrated and awed all at once. I felt indebted to him for sparing my life.
But I also saw something else in that eye, and that was pity.
Not for himself nor for his kind, but for us.
An uncomfortable pallor of shame fell over me as I sensed what the whale perceived. It was indeed pity, but pity for us, that we could take life so ruthlessly, so thoughtlessly, and so mercilessly; and for what?
We sat there in our little inflatable boats in the midst of the Soviet whaling fleet with the bodies of a half dozen sperm whales lying lifeless in the swell. I watched the sun begin to set in the west and I remembered that the Russians were killing whales primarily for the valuable spermaceti oil.
Spermaceti oil is valued for its high resistance to heat, and thus it is used in machinery where there is excessive heat. One of the demands for this oil by the Soviets was for use in the production on intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Here they were slaughtering these magnificent, intelligent, socially complex, wondrous sentient beings for the purpose of making a weapon designed for the mass extermination of human beings.
And I thought to myself, are we really this insane?
Captain Paul Watson
We're told, often enough, that as a species we are poised on the edge of the abyss. It's possible that our puffed-up, prideful intelligence has outstripped our instinct for survival and the road back to safety has already been washed away. In which case there is nothing much to be done. If there is something to be done, then one thing is for sure: those who created the problem will not be the ones who come up with a solution. Encrypting our e-mails will help, but not very much. Recalibrating our understanding of what love means, what happiness means - and yes, what countries mean - might. Recalibrating our priorities might. An old growth forest, a mountain range, or a river valley is more important and certainly more lovable than any country will ever be. I could weep for a river valley, and I have. But for a country? Oh man, I don't know...
When I was in high school they dragged me into the principals office and they told me I had a lot of potential, but that I needed to learn how to study hard and make something of myself.
And that’s when I quit school, because I realized that we weren’t operating on the same level of reality. Because, you see, I knew that I already was something.
What is he?
-A man, of course.
Yes, but what does he do?
-He lives and is a man.
Oh quite! But he must work. He must have a job of some sort.
Because obviously he’s not one of the leisured classes.
-I don’t know. He has lots of leisure. And he makes quite beautiful chairs.
There you are then! He’s a cabinet maker.
Anyhow a carpenter and a joiner.
-Not at all.
But you said so
- What did I say?
That he made chairs and was a joiner and carpenter
- I said he made chairs, but I did not say he was a carpenter.
All right then he is just an amateur?
-Perhaps! Would you say a thrush was a professional flautist, or just an amateur?
I’d say it was just a bird
-And I say he is just a man.
All right! You always like to quibble!