Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Maybe we should learn to "stop" and "listen" like elephants?

From American Public Radio - "Whale Songs and Elephant Loves" - Katy Payne is an acoustic biologist with a Quaker sensibility. From the wild coast of Argentina to the rainforests of Africa, she discovered that humpback whales compose ever-changing songs and that elephants communicate across long distances by infrasound.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif Here, she reflects on life in this world through her experiences with two of the most exotic creatures.

Ms. Tippett: And you were listening to elephants, but you've also referred to elephants as great listeners.

Ms. Payne: Yeah. They do something marvelous that I wish we would do more of the time. This is something you do find in Quaker meetings, actually, and in Buddhist meetings as well. The whole herd, and that may be 50 animals, will suddenly be still, completely still. And it's not just a stillness of voice, it's a stillness of body. So you'll be watching the moving herd, they'll be all over the place, they'll be facing all directions, doing different things. Suddenly everything freezes as if a movie was turned into a still photograph, and the freeze may last a whole minute, which is a long time. They're listening. When they freeze, they tighten and lift and spread their ears. This tells us — this, among other things, tells us that they're concerned with what's going on over the horizon.

Ms. Tippett: Well, speaking of silence, tell me that story about how you became a Quaker and how that intersects with this work you do.

Ms. Payne: Oh.

Ms. Tippett: That's a big question.

Ms. Payne: Yeah. I guess I've always felt that a simpler life would be a good thing for me. Quakers are wonderful practicers of simplicity. They attempt to get their worldly affairs down to a dull roar so that they can help a little bit in meeting some of the world's needs. I like that. And I find that meditation, which sometimes I've done as a Quaker, sometimes in other forms — I don't know, I shouldn't maybe use the word "meditation." Just being silent is a most wonderful way to open up to what is really there. I see my responsibility, if I have one, as being to listen.

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