Crazy for Critters

by Eena

Animals are so damn cute. They’re a childhood obsession that’s grown unchecked right up through early adulthood, estrogen levels and growing maternal instinct aside. It was my childish understanding that having for pets some parrots, ducks, hermit crabs, snakes (all in addition to the usual four-legged furry friends) was perfectly normal.

You can skip this personal crap and scroll right on down to my pictures from beautiful Bohol, Philippines.

I should say upfront that this yogini is not vegan, but somewhere approaching pescatarian. I eat more seafood and am able to substitute a lot of vegetables for most of my meat and carb intake. Someday I’ll be vegetarian. Today I choose not to condemn my soul for maintaining this diet (and causing harm, directly or indirectly, to other beings).

Lately my soft spot for animals has begun to encompass the less desirable critters: snails, beetles, even higad (harmfully hairy caterpillars). I’ve developed an urge to give them all a chance at life. So when I see a malnourished abandoned kitten out by the road, I adopt it (they die 70% of the time but I keep trying). When I see a caterpillar trying to cross the road, I transfer it to the safety of the bushes.

Sometimes it makes me feel like a saint, other times my friends make me feel like a preaching pollyannaish moralist git. (I’m getting used to it.)

I have my yoga teacher training to thank for this evolution. Ahimsa is the yogi attitude of non-harming and helping to preserve life.

I think that if you believe in compassion and what it can do for this world, you will also start to extend it to all beings on any number of legs, because these beings are no less deserving of the resources you take freely from the environment. No being is more deserving of these graces than another.

Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and nights is worthy of all else from you. And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.

Nope, I don’t think Kahlil Gibran meant veganism or ahimsa here. But the words resonate well. (Thank you to my dear cousin Isha for sharing.)

I will not condemn those who have not taken steps to avoid unnecessary harm to other beings. That’s beneath me, but also I’m not above any of you. If I condemn myself for all my past wrongs, I won’t be able to keep up with the present. Karma will take its toll in its own time and as I’ve said before, I welcome it.

Meanwhile, the amateur photos I captured in Bohol last weekend have those cute animals I was talking about. Big or small, warm- or cold-blooded, there’s something beautiful about all creatures. I want to preserve that. Do you?

Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu. May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

Namaste.

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The Philippine Tarsier, about the size of a man’s fist, is an endangered primate. Their existence is threatened by deforestation and rampant hunting for the pet market.

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Sea slugs retain their pretty colors before hermit crabs take over their homes. They aren’t enlightened as we are about ahimsa 🙂

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A young boy of the Ati tribe poses for tourists with a captive bayawak (carnivorous monitor lizard) and a hundred-peso tip in hand. I don’t know if he knew he was giving the bad finger.

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More interesting beings. The last is my dad mimicking the wide-eyed nocturnal tarsier.

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The low tide at Danao Beach outside our resort, and Loboc River.

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