Whales and Peace

by Elizabeth Asch

Elizabeth Asch is an artist and animal communicator who has been working with Earth’s ancient species—the whales, elephants, and horses, among others in the animal kingdom—studied with the highly regarded animal communicator, Anna Breytenbach. According to Breytenbach, human and animal communication is not only possible, but also ought to be encouraged as a method of reestablishing the bonds between humanity and other living beings. If people would approach animals to confer with them from a position of respect and mutual acknowledgement as beings who share in this state of existence and in this place (Earth) as a home, perhaps we could reconnect, mend, and cooperate in the fundamental ties between all diverse life.

Below, Elizabeth Asch shares a written reflection from an expedition to the waters of the Caribbean island of Dominica where she swam with the largest mammals in the worldwhales.

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Picture a battered, 30’ motorboat on a vast, flat sea, hot sun and blue sky overhead.  Several miles distant is the small Caribbean island of Dominica, whose mountains hold the only visible clouds at their peaks.  Motor turned off, all six men aboard hold one hand up to shade their eyes while scanning the horizon for the white spouts of water which signal a surfacing whale.  Not knowing if I will recognize such a plume, never having seen one in person anyhow, I instead use my internal body radar; while tuning in to my instincts, I slowly turn my body to see if I can feel a pull in any particular direction.  A feeling in the pit of my gut tells me to stop and I too raise my hand to my eyes to see, and sure enough there it is.  Two of the men see it too and, pointing arm extended, shout “Blow!”

 

Today is Day 3 of our nine-day expedition.  I am accompanying three researchers whose life mission is to decode the clicking language of dolphins and whales.   These three passionate men travel the world to record and film sperm whales, or as they are known in French cachalots, the largest of the hunting whales.  The size of a city bus, or even a double-bus, the cachalot swims from the surface down to eight thousand foot depth.  I learned to free dive in order to take this trip and the deepest I have gone is a mere 65 feet.

 

Before leaving I offered to write an article telling what the cachalots have to say about peace for my friends at GPIW.  The last couple of days though, I have just been getting to know the whales and their beautiful home.  Until this trip, elephants were the largest animal I have played with and I remain impressed by their size and the vastness of the landscape in which they live.  The endless, blue ocean home of the cachalot is a whole new world for me and I’m still adapting.

 

I connect with a large male I call Bruno.  One good place to start a conversation with a fellow predator mammal is eating, so he has been showing me food and hunting.  He shows me a nearby ledge in a cold, mostly dark part of the ocean where giant squid and other large fish hang out.  While one or two sperm whales churn the water with their powerful tails, others swim along and scoop out the animals to eat.  Still others swim open-mouthed, and in fact at one point while I am in the water swimming about thirty feet down, Bruno silently appears directly behind me.  I can feel some Presence and although I believe I am alone in the water with my human friends, when that body radar tells me to look back all I see at first are big, white things which turn out to be the teeth in his open jaw.  I laugh aloud because I know this is the whale who has been explaining cachalot hunting to me, and here he is to demonstrate.  I am certain he isn’t planning to eat me, he’s just showing me how it’s done.  After I notice he dives as silently as he appeared.

 

When I ask Bruno about peace he shows me more scenes of living in the water.  When I ask other whales, they show me the same thing.  I think maybe they are dodging the question, or maybe I didn’t ask it clearly – – he thinks we are still on the mundane.

 

I ask about war and they show me scenes of individual whales fighting, like Moby Dick.  This is warfare maybe but not war.  They say they don’t make war.  They did something like it millions of years ago in their evolution, but they don’t do it anymore.  As a species they have forgiven us for driving them close to extinction back when whale oil was humans’ main fuel, although there are always some humans who find ways to provoke some individual whales and get killed for it.  But retribution as a species?  Not their concern.

AC Dominica wwhale

Finding no answer from the whales about peace I ask the elephants.  They seem to sidestep the question too.  Elephants and whales are the largest mammals of their two elements, land and water, and some people say the most evolved.  Perhaps they just don’t know about peace, perhaps it is so natural to them that they can’t address how it is done.  They both seem to evade and avoid us humans as best they can, and especially when we aim to make war with them.  In response to my query, my elephant friends show themselves out on the savannah like they are every day, aware of each other’s presence, and grazing, grazing, grazing and dozing, enjoying the beauty and bounty of their home.

AC headshot Nkarsis

I ask birds, insects, and fish, and any wild animals I can think of, and still no answer.  Can it be that, as folks always tell me, “You ascribe too much intelligence to the animals.  They don’t think like we do.  They don’t have the mental capacity” for big questions?  I am intrigued.  I know this isn’t true, and yet all I get in response is the feeling inside of how it feels to be one of their kind, living in awareness of the other ones nearby, and in their beautiful homes.  Over and over, in the water, in the sky, on the land, underground, my only answer is scenes of life, of family, of just being.

 

Finally I ask my horse friend.  Ginger has been my guide for thirteen years.  I tell her my dilemma.  About how I arrogantly offered to write about whales and peace, and how I am completely stuck.  No whale nor any other species has answered my question, “How do you keep peace, what can my people do to find peace?”  I show her the responses I have and she laughs at me.

AC Ginger sleeping

“You have your answer.  That is peace,” Ginger tells me.  Peace comes from within and only from within.  It comes from each and every one of us, at every moment.  Look for the awareness of peace within yourselves, and feel it in those around you.  From there it spreads and spreads and spreads.  First you feel it in yourself.  Then you feel it in those closest to you and you begin to feel it in other the individuals from other species who are also nearby.  Inner peace for yourself connects you to all humans.  Then feeling it in other species connects you and your species to your fellow beings, and to the planet.  This is how it spreads and spreads.

 

Find the silence within.  Connect with the peace in others.  Moment by moment by moment, now and now and now.

Nkarsis Photo

Dr. Doudou Diene: 1 Minute Advice for Today’s Youth from GPIW & Contemplative Alliance

Dr. Doudou Diene is an intellectual, and a man of deep spiritual wisdom and full of life’s experiences. He was the former UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance from 2002—2008 allowing him to travel to many parts of the world to witness first hand injustice, suffering and at the same time the power and beauty of those who promote healing and unity. Here he delivers a short and powerful message when asked what would he like to say to young people at this moment in time.

Unity: The Eagle and the Condor

Message from the Kogi

by Emma Szymanski

This past March, the Global Peace Initiative of Women organized a five-day retreat in Costa Rica with 20 young ecologists and environmental activists from different regions of the United States. Mentors from various spiritual and indigenous traditions guided the program in exploring the convergence of spirituality and ecology, as well as the intersectionality that must be taken up in addressing the multifaceted, global crises beyond climate change. Participants met to discuss the shifts in consciousness and relation to the Earth through a long-eschewed spiritual lens, in the context of the environmental movement in the United States.

This was one gathering in a series of meetings (see highlights of last year’s Costa Rica gathering here) with young people around the world that GPIW has organized over the last few years. This initiative grounds its efforts and expression in the idea of Mother Earth’s essential sacredness, as well as in the cultivation of inner wisdom or self-awareness as a means of healing and restoring bonds with both the natural world.

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Participants of the “Inner Dimensions of Climate Change” retreat — opening day at the Earth Charter International headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Earth’s biodiversity, including the cultural diversity and vitality of the global human community, manifests as incomprehensibly complex systems in motion. These systems are fundamentally deserving of respect, care, and awe. Reciprocity and mutual flourishing, two elements often found among coexisting species and communities in the natural world, in a way represent the crossing of thresholds that embody any healthy living system. En route to transformation, may we first and foremost seek the paths toward harmony and shared prosperity by learning to face inward—not selfishly, but instead as liminal beings whose inner dimensions illuminate a collective source of wisdom, so often unseen and inaccessible in today’s world of distractions and artificiality.

We were honored to be joined by Pacha K’anchay, a young Kogi leader who traveled from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Colombia to deliver his people’s message. Trained in the teachings of community elders, Pacha kindly imparted profound wisdom unto the group on the opening evening. His words, and those of Mindahi Munoz, a resident scholar at the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, are translated into both English and Spanish below. As you read, consider how you yourself might recognize the animate, dynamic essence of the natural world. Perhaps you may let that energetic force flood your individual mind, if only for a few moments, as one living, beating, breathing being among innumerable others.

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Top row, from left to right: Mindahi Bastida, Pacha K’anchay, and Geraldine Patrick.

“Eagle and Condor”

English

Pacha K’anchay:

From the lands of Central America, where the beaks of the condor and the eagle unite, we meet here, offering a tribute to the ancient and ancestral peoples who walked on this land.

Which today, as spirits, provide food and are the nature of this land. They are the songs of birds, and they still live in the sounds of our waters, and they still have a community.

And this spirit has allowed many beings to learn, to unite in knowledge, and today, there are many ways of wanting to join with nature.

We are here to make a call to the conscience and to the heart of all human beings, so that we can once again synchronize our heart with that of Mother Earth’s.

From the things that are real, from forgiving the person next to us, and from understanding the time in which we find ourselves, it is time to unify ourselves among our peoples.

It is time for nations to understand that millenary wisdom was left on Earth for humanity to uphold herself.

And we were given forms of thought so that in each territory there would be peace and balance and harmony among the beings that live there.

From the heart, we send a message to all the beings that can see this message, that from your heart you may feel the need for a transformation, to protect life, to unify with nature.

Many today have spiritual faculties, and the thought is growing; others, from the reason and with scientific faculties, can aide so that nature, our Mother Earth, continues and lives for a long time.

From our heart we have come here to give thanks for life, to unify ourselves with the essence of thought.

We are in the time of prophecies where the Sun sends his messages and the Earth manifests her changes.

We are in the time of birth pains, moving towards a time in which we reconnect with our interior.

The prophecies of our ancestors are fulfilled today. The prophecies were told so that today, we who are alive in this historic moment, may again synchronize ourselves with the Earth and with the Universe.

From the peoples of South America of the lands of the condor, from the people of the eagle.

We also lift up unity to Tibet, the Himalayas, to the great territories found all over the planet to unify ourselves in the heart of Mother Earth for life.

This is how, here today, in nature, among family and among the hearts of the people, we send to you, from our heart, all the strength to unify ourselves in this web of life.

From the heart of the lands of the eagle and the condor, Abyayala, in the center of what is now called Costa Rica, we raise this call to the unity of the peoples for life. HAYAYA

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz:

Greetings! We greet you with our hearts from the lands of the central highlands of Mexico, here in Costa Rica.

I greet my KJUADA, Pacha K’anchay. Eagle and condor, here in these millenary lands.

The time of our voice has come, our time has come.

Nothing and no one will speak for us any more, nor will they sit to discuss what they will do with our peoples, with our territories.

The dawn is approaching, the birds are saying so. The quetzal will return to these lands and to others.

We also want to greet the distant lands: the dragon and the Phoenix, because one day we will join them, also.

We send this message because we all have something to contribute.

Human beings have created the problem, and now we are going to create the solution, together, in a process of unification where we learn ‘to be’ in this ‘collective way of being’.

In the ‘way of being’ from which we departed many times over the past seven thousand years.

The dawn is approaching, and we are in a process of transition. We are here for the new dawn.

MOXINGUINTINI KJUADA MOXINGUINTINI KJU. KJAMADI. Onward with everything, with life, for the life, and for life.

Español

Pacha K’anchay:

Desde las tierras de Centroamérica, donde se unen el pico del cóndor y del águila, nos encontramos aquí ofreciéndole un tributo a los pueblos milenarios y ancestrales que caminaron por acá.

Que hoy, como espíritus, brindan alimento y son la naturaleza de esta tierra. Que son los cantos de las aves, y que aún viven en los sonidos de nuestras aguas, y aún tienen comunidad.

Y ese espíritu ha permitido que muchos seres aprendan, que se unan en conocimiento, y hoy aparecen muchas formas de querer unirse más a la naturaleza.

Estamos aquí para hacerle un llamado a la conciencia y al corazón de todos los seres humanos, para que podamos nuevamente sincronizar nuestro corazón con el de la Madre Tierra.

Desde lo real, desde perdonar al que tenemos al lado, y desde comprender el tiempo en el que nos encontramos, es el momento de unificarnos entre pueblos.

Es el momento de que las naciones comprendan que la sabiduría milenaria se dejó en la tierra para que se sostuviera la humanidad.

Y se nos dejaron formas de pensamiento para que en cada territorio hubiera paz y equilibrio y armonía entre los seres que ahí están.

De corazón enviamos un mensaje a todos los seres que puedan observar este mensaje, de que de corazón sientan la necesidad de una transformación, de proteger la vida, de unificarnos con la naturaleza.

Muchos hoy día tienen facultades espirituales y el pensamiento va creciendo; otros desde la razón, con las facultades científicas, pueden aportar a que la naturaleza, nuestra Madre Tierra, continúe y perviva en el tiempo.

De corazón aquí hemos venido a agradecer por la vida, a unificarnos con la esencia del pensamiento.

Estamos en los tiempos de las profecías en donde el Sol envía sus mensajes y la Tierra se manifiesta con sus cambios.

Estamos en el tiempo de dolor de parto hacia un tiempo en donde estamos volviendo a conectarnos con nuestro interior.

Las profecías de nuestros ancestros hoy se cumplen. Se dijeron para que hoy nosotros, que vivimos este momento histórico, podamos sincronizarnos nuevamente con la Tierra y el Universo.

Desde los pueblos de Sudamérica de las tierras del cóndor, desde los pueblos del águila.

También elevamos la unidad hacia el Tíbet, el Himalaya, hacia los grandes territorios que se encuentran en todo el planeta para unificarnos en el corazón de la Madre Tierra por la vida.

Es así, como hoy aquí, en esta naturaleza, entre la familia, entre el corazón de los pueblos, les enviamos a ustedes, desde nuestro corazón, toda la fuerza para unificarnos en este tejido de vida.

Desde el corazón de las tierras del águila y el cóndor, el Abyayala, en todo el centro de que hoy llaman Costa Rica, elevamos este llamado hasta la unidad de los pueblos por la vida. HAYAYA

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz:

Saludo! Les saludamos con el corazón desde las tierras del altiplano central de México aquí desde Tepantí, desde Costa Rica.

Saludo a mi KJUADA, Pacha K’anchay. Águila y cóndor, aquí en estas tierras milenarias.

Ha llegado el tiempo de nuestra voz, el tiempo nuestro.

Ya nada ni nadie hablará por nosotros ni se sentarán a discutir qué harán con nuestros pueblos, con los territorios.

Ya se acerca la alborada, los pájaros están mencionando. El quetzal volverá por estas tierras y por otras.

También queremos saludar a las tierras lejanas: al dragón y al Fénix, porque un día nos uniremos también con ellos.

Enviamos este mensaje porque todos tenemos algo que aportar.

Los seres humanos ahora hemos creado el problema y ahora vamos a crear la solución, juntos, en un proceso de unificación donde nosotros estamos aprendiendo a ‘ser’ en este ‘ser colectivo’.

En ese ‘ser’ que muchas veces se desvió desde hace siete mil años.

Ya se acerca la alborada, y estamos en un proceso de transición. Estamos por el nuevo amanecer.

MOXINGUINTINI KJUADA MOXINGUINTINI KJU. KJAMADI. Adelante con todo, con la vida, para la vida, y por la vida.