Friday, March 28, 2014

Conservation fables #3: Pika and the dancing hare

Excerpt from the book Tibet Wild by George B. Schaller

Pika sits by his burrow when Hare hops up. "Where are you going?" asks Pika.
   "I come from behind me and I'm going ahead," replies Hare. 
   Hare looks down at little Pika and chuckles, pfft-pfft. Hare's cleft lip quivers when he makes that sound. 
   Pika does not know why Hare chuckles. Before he can ask, a gust of wind blows sand in their faces. Pika backs into his burrow, but Hare says, "wait, wait," as he wipes the sand from his face with his forepaws. "The sand reminds me of a story. You want to hear the latest? Well, maybe it's not so new. Another hare told me, and he got the story from someone else, who..." Hare leans over and whispers: "The whole village danced - on pikas."
 That got Pika's attention. 
   Hare laughs and wiggles his long ears. Then he twirls around and wiggles his white, fluffy tail and stamps his furry feet, THUMP THUMP, in a hare dance. Then Hare continues, "A production team from the village was building a fence. Pika holes everywhere. Wind blew sand into people's faces. Shoes sank into soil made soft by all the pika burrows. Gajia. the leader, had an insight: pikas cause sandstorms and erosion by digging and they eat all the grass. You know how people jump to conclusions."
   Pika nods in agreement.
Hare (pic from wiki)
   "Anyway," says Hare. "Gajia gave an order: 'The soil is too soft. We must pack it down. We must fill the pika holes.' The next day the villagers all came. You know how Tibetans love a picnic. They came with thermoses of butter tea, bread, and chunks of boiled mutton. They ate, and laughed, and were in good mood. Then they went to work. At first they just stamped their feet." THUMP THUMP goes Hare. "After that they danced, stomping the ground and singing, and holding their arms aloft."
   Hare thumps his feet, rises up, and spins around singing through his voice sounds like a squeak. THUMP-SQUEAK-THUMP. "After that they shoveled sand into the holes. It did pack the soil down."
   "What happened to the pikas?" asks Pika.
   Hare chuckles and his lip quivers again. "We hares don't dig much. A scrape here and there. But you pikas are fanatics, always digging. Nothing happened to the pikas: they simply fixed up their homes. But Gajia was angry. He wanted hard ground and he lost face. So he got poison from the government. End of Pikas."
   Pika is unhappy with that story. He lowers his head and his whiskers droop. Hare notices and says, "Wait! An interesting ending. You should be able to guess it. But you dig so much you don't take time to think like us hares. Action is easy, thought is hard. With the pikas gone, the soil packed down. When it rained, the water ran off, causing erosion. Soft soil absorbs and holds water. Grass grows well when it has moisture and is tender and nutritious. Grass grows poorly on hard soil and is tough to eat. Your digging helps all those who eat grass. Gajia had thought you pikas are harmful pests."
   Pika says smugly, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
   Hare wiggles ears, nose, and tail, and laughs. "Let's dance." He hops in a tight circle and bounds away singing and thumping. THUMP THUMP. Here is his song:

          Soft soil
          Moist soil
          Green grass
          Good grass
          Cheers for Pika

Written by George B. Schaller

Conservation fables #2: Wolf looks for a new home

Excerpt from the book Tibet Wild by George B. Schaller

Wolf squeezes through a gap in the pasture gate and looks left and right. He sees several pikas, all of them busy running along their tiny winding pika roads, ducking in and out of burrows, and looking for food. One pika hums a little song:
Pika (pic from wiki)

          This is a mouthful of grass,
          This is a wild pea, 
          This is a flower and this a tender leaf,
          A lunch for you and me.

   Nearby, Pika watches Wolf, only his nose and bright eyes visible at the burrow entrance.
   "What brings you here? We rarely see your kind on this pasture," queries Pika. Wolf looks around and spots Pika.
   "Well," says Wolf, "I'm here to catch pikas. But you're safe for now."
   "You haven't answered my question," responds Pika.
   Wolf decides to be civil and tells Pika, "I hunted for months across pastures to the north. They were my home. I mainly had pikas for breakfast, lunch and dinner and for snacks in between. Only rarely did I kill a sheep. One day many people came and spread poisoned grain all over the pastures to kill pikas. Nearly all the pikas died. Have you heard of that before?"
   Pika does not like this conversation. He does not like to think of being eaten by Wolf. And he cannot begin to understand why humans would want to kill all the pikas. So Pika merely shakes his head in response to the question. 
Wolf (pic from wiki)

   "Anyway," continues Wolf, "with most pikas dead there was little for me to eat. So naturally I killed sheep. The herders had mostly ignored me until then. But suddenly they were determined to kill me, too. See, the tip of my left ear is gone. Someone had a gun, and a bullet almost got me. So I left. May be I'll stay here awhile. There seem to be a lot of pikas."
   Just then Wolf spots two gazelle, a mother and her baby. Few gazelle have survived in this area. The many pasture fences greatly hinder them when they try to escape a dog or wolf. Most fences are too high for gazelle to leap over.
   "Watch me," says Wolf. "I have developed a special technique for catching gazelle. The fences really help me." With that, Wolf approaches the gazelles slowly in a crouch. 
   Suddenly Wolf sprints towards the gazelles. Startled, they flee. Wolf is soon at their heels. Ahead is a fence. The mother gazelle zigzags and turns sharply away from the fence. Her less experienced baby dashes a full speed into the wire fence. Half stunned, it bounces back, its thin legs flailing. And Wolf is there ready.
   Pika watches and ponders and considers the effects of poisoning pikas and building fences. People, he concludes, don't think ahead. They do not consider the consequences of their actions.

Written by George B. Schaller 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

mind without measure

All the below interesting quotes are from JK's Mind without Measure!

When we are confused, uncertain, insecure, we try to find a solution in the past, we go back to our traditions.

Where there is conditioning there is no freedom, there cannot be love, there cannot be affection.

The brain has the capacity to create images. The images are the illusions we have. 

Thinking is a nature of man; it is not your thinking or my thinking.

When I am observing, learning, inquiring into the fact, there is no conflict. 

Do you know what it means to love another? Have you ever loved anybody? Is love dependence? 

Why is it that all religions, all so-called religious people have suppressed desire?

You have to approach fear very simply, the trunk and the root of fear, not the branches. 

So we are asking if there is another kind of instrument which is not thought. 

Your sorrow is the sorrow of mankind, the sorrow of all human beings.

Without love, the sense of compassion, the flame of it, the intelligence of it, life has very little meaning.

A mind in conflict, a brain in struggle, cannot possibly meditate. 

Is your brain programmed to think in a conventional, narrow, limited way?

Choice is not freedom. Choice is merely moving in the same field, from one corner to another.

They may meet sexually, talk together, care somewhat, have children, but they remain separate. 

We must inquire into what knowledge is, what place knowledge has in our relationship with each other.

In the greater, the lesser disappears. In the greater humanity, the little human problems are solved.

Can there be a gap between sensation and thought impinging upon that sensation?

We never look at what is. We want to change what is taking place into something else.

What is the cause of sorrow, which is pain, tears, a sense of desperate loneliness? 

It is much more important to understand what happens before death rather than what happens after death.

Your consciousness is not yours; it is shared by all human beings living on this Earth.

Meditation is not the practice of any system because when you practice a system, your brain becomes atrophied. 

We are saying that thought is responsible for all the misery in the world. 

So if thought is not the instrument to solve human problems, what then is the instrument?

We must have a brain that is constantly inquiring, questioning, doubting. 

When you are attached to anything, there is always fear in it, the fear of losing it. 

Find out yourself what is the cause of conflict by which man has lived from time immemorial.

Patience is timeless. It is only impatience that has time. 

Is it possible to end violence or greed or what you will immediately, end the whole of violence?

At that moment when thought takes charge of sensation, at that precise moment, desire is born.

In every house there is this shadow of sorrow. There is a sudden ending.

It is that intelligence that moves the Earth and the heavens and the stars because that is compassion. 

In meditation there is no control because the controller is controlled. 

If we have problems, they obviously act as friction and wear out the brain, and we get old and so on.

The body never says, 'I am'; the body never says, 'I am something special.'

If you say, 'Tell me how to end thought', then you make a problem of it.

All power is evil, ugly, whether it is the power of the wife over the husband or the power of governments. 

When you are facing facts, you have to be totally humble, not cultivate humility.

What does that love mean? Is it based on reward and punishment?

We must begin very near to go very far. The near is what we are.

Compassion is not the product of thought. Love cannot exist in the shadow of thought.

There is the sorrow of a man who has everything and yet nothing.

What is going to happen to us when the computer can do almost everything that we do?

But if you see the reality, the truth, that you are the rest of mankind, then what is death?

Meditation is the understanding of the whole structure of the 'me', the self, the ego.


Conservation fables #1: Pika welcomes two flies

Excerpt from the book Tibet Wild by George B. Schaller

Pika is at the entrance to his burrow. Only his head peers out. His wife and children are deep in the burrow, cozy and warm in their grass nest. A cold wind blows and snowflakes fill the sky even though it is already summer. 
Pika from wiki

   As Pika looks out at the bad weather, thinking it too cold to look for some lunch, two large flies land before him. They have hairy abdomens but still they are shivering. 
   "Please let us into your burrow," says one fly. "It is so windy that we can't fly well and we are cold."
   "Then why don't you go home?" asks Pika. "Why come to my burrow?"
   "We have no home." says the second fly, stamping its six feet because they are wet with snow. "Usually we seek shelter in an empty pika or marmot burrow. But in this weather we could not find a place quickly."
   Pika grumbles, "why should I give hospitality to flies in my home?"
   "Oh, let them in. Be kind to strangers," calls Pika's wife from deep within the burrow. Pika obeys his wife, as usual.
   Pika squeezes to one side and let the flies walk in. Once out of the wind the flies shake their wings and wipe themselves dry with their forelegs.
   "What are you doing out in such weather?" asks Pika. 
   "We were pollinating flowers when the storm surprised us," answers the first fly. He explains that they fly from flower to flower seeking sweet nectar. At the same time they inadvertently carry pollen on their legs and hairy abdomen from one plant to another. In this way they help to fertilize the gentians, poppies, primroses and many other flowers. The plants can then produce seeds that later grow into new flowers. 
   Pika ponders this. Finally he says, "you mean you help flowers bloom?" And he ponders some more about what this might mean. 
   But Pika's wife has a quick mind. Her voice comes once more from within the nest. "Don't you realize, Pika, that our two visitors help us grow our food? Without them we would not have so many delicious plants to eat. Nor would the yaks, sheep, and marmots. We must always offer shelter to flies."
   Pika sits motionless, his head now inside the burrow. It helps him to think more clearly. He realizes that he often meets flies near his burrow but has paid them little attention. 
   "It is good to give hospitality and show kindness to strangers," he muses. "One never knows how they might repay you."

Written by George B. Schaller

Whoa! I was thrilled reading these fables. These were written to send out conservation messages in the form of fables in the Chang Tang region of Tibet. The idea was that teaching young minds through such fables will help changing the strong and unwarranted antipathy of many Tibetans towards pikas; by highlighting the benefits that pikas bring to the rangeland and the pastoral households. These fables were translated into Tibetan and were published as booklets for school children.

It will be good to come up with such conservation fables on every threatened species and teach young minds. I am certain that if young children read these fables, they will develop affection towards wildlife and be knowledgeable about what good they can do for us.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

a deadly fashion

Excerpt from the book Tibet Wild by George B. Schaller

If the estimated average of 20,000 slaughtered chiru a year represents the correct order of magnitude, then 180,000 died between 1990 and 1998. The 1,100 kg of confiscated wool translates to about 11,000 chiru, based on about ten chiru hides per kilogram of wool. This figure, added to the 17,000 confiscated hides, totals 28,000 chiru. It is unlikely that more than 10-15 percent of the hides and wool in the trade are intercepted by police, making the official kill estimate very conservative. Looking at the annual shawl production in Kashmir during these years, one estimate is 5,000 to 11,000 shawls. There are roughly three chiru per shawl, so a total of 15,000 to 33,000 chiru died each year to support the deadly fashion. These crude calculations indicate, then, that at least 250,000 to 300,000 chiru died during the 1990s. 

I am shocked! When I watched the documentary 'Kekexili - Mountain Patrol' couple of years ago, I saw the chiru slaughter in action. Well, only those who enjoy wearing those shahtoosh shawls will know how comfortable they are wearing bodies of three chiru draped over their shoulders. Isn't it a shroud? 

Chiru is a antelope native to Tibet. Less than 75000 individuals are left in the wild, down from a million.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

R.I.P Melvin

that you were a great thinker, a pragmatist and a humble soul.
those conversations we had on Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations
still linger in my ears. And that you were delighted about getting an invite from
International Pragmatist's Association, be offered a membership and a good
opportunity to present your thoughts during their conference in Delhi, your
ideas on sharing knowledge and acquiring more, to be simpler in life.
how I enjoyed our conversations, something that I used to look forward to
you will be missed for sure! may you rest in peace!


Friday, March 14, 2014

silhouette of a wild flower

out in the wild, in search of a wild flower 
dry and humid, in the hot summer weather
walking in the woods of spring colored trees
hearing the music of honey smeared bees
truly a wonder to see the colorful blossom
down in the valley, a wild flower in bloom
singing birds play in the nature's palette, and 
orchids look magical in the evening's silhouette