–by Steve Karlin (Feb 15, 2018)
Steve Karlin [SK]: When I’m talking, I’m trying to be in my place in the center. Now, I’m aware of all my [hand]shaking going on. But when I’m trying to communicate, I’m not aware of it at that point…It just really keeps reminding me that I have to be reflective of what’s really going on and who I am as a human being. Am I a shell that’s shaking? To some people, yes; to most people, yes. To me, it’s the being inside: all the stories, all the experiences wrapped around that core spark of existence.
Phill Borges [PB]: So, for you, it is just a reminder that we really aren’t in control?
SK: Yes, and that we have to stop spending our lives trying to be in control. I’m not saying don’t be a powerful person and do wonderful things in this world, instead, just lie there and be a schmuck in the middle of a forest. But realize that we are only on this Planet for a very short period of time. We are not this shell. This is the story we have made up in our minds, of who we are. Because, beyond all of our personality, there is something in here that is connected with everything in existence on this Planet, and if we can become aware and conscious and part of that…And this is why people do meditative practices; there is such an experience of oneness that you can’t put into words. It’s the language before words, the language after words; it’s the language of existence. And to be experiencing that oneness of all living things is the epitome of being a human being.
The indigenous cultures, they have all these stories about spirits of the forest, spirits of the trees. How else can you relate it? You can’t put it into words. So, you have this incredible experience with trees and forests and this connection when you know certain tree saps save your life…If you are living in the forest, and that tree saved your aunt, and you made something out of this flower, and it saved your mother, those trees are holy; those trees are sacred. They are sacred because they have such an affinity, such a relationship with you. So how should we treat that flower, if it saved our relative, a human being?
PB: With a lot of reverence.
SK: Yeah! How should we treat the forest that provides a carbon sink and oxygen, and plankton that provides all this green algae? All this stuff is sacred because of our relationship with it—it keeps us alive…
I was telling somebody who brought me food the other day that they had cooked, that it is the most intimate experience, the most intimate gift, to give someone something you cooked. Because when you eat something, it becomes part of who you are. It goes into every cell of your body. It changes you forever. So when you cook things for people, it’s a very intimate experience, more than making love to them…And it reminds me of my aunts who used to have a string of bakeries, and they used to bring baked goods home for us. And my grandmother lived in the house with extended family and would cook for us. We revered our aunts and grandparents so much because of the love they put into nourishment to keep us alive, and how it related to everything around us; everything is sacred.
PB: Give me in a short sentence, if it’s possible…what have you found to be the most effective way of getting in touch with that feeling of oneness with everything?
SK: Start with your breath: Our first breath in life, our first breath in existence, we breathe in; our last breath, we breathe out. Those are the two most important breaths that we have. One brings us into this world; one takes us out of this world. And almost every other breath we forget, we are not conscious of. And if we start just listening to that breath, in and out, up and down, just listening to the power and how it feels, that’s the key to the consciousness and awareness of all living things around you. If you’re sitting in a forest, and you just listen to your breath [takes a breath]. The instant I did that I heard what I wasn’t hearing before—five to fifteen songbirds around me. I smelled the grass I wasn’t smelling the whole time we were talking. I felt the humidity in the air. I felt the wind blowing against my face. I felt more alive. And if we continually just become more aware of our breath, things will magically shift for us. It’s a good start.
–Steve Karlin. Excerpt from the the interview featured in the DailyGood: The Wisdom of the Animals. Steve is the founder of the animal sanctuary Wildlife Associates. Other interview full of wisdom: Steve Karlin and Susie Bear. [Drawing from the post of the 2018 Gandhi 3.0 gathering].