What Big Teeth You Have

Getting close up and personal with a bear can be salutary. They look like an animated ‘teddy bear’ from ones childhood, a much bigger version though. It is all too easy to loose sight of the fact that they are creatures of the wild, when they look so cute and cuddly. One thing is clear when near one; they have big claws, big teeth and powerful rippling muscles under their soft coats.

After my close encounter I found myself getting really interested in bears; the danger they are drawn into by following their noses to human habitation for fast food, their wilderness home eroding and migration routes cut off. Yes, I really got into that. Somebody suggested I submit the photo, on yesterday’s blog, to the local newspaper, “hay, look what came to our place yesterday”! So I did, and it was published.

I wrote a piece to submit with the photograph, the words coming easily as I was inspired by the subject. Then, as we do within the Sangha, I ran the writing past a senior monk and I was brought up short. In a kindly way I was reminded that while the cause was real and good, my involvement was not. I deleted what I’d written and sat still. The ‘not good’ was connected to my vocation as a priest within my particular Order. We do not include overt social action in our practice, concentrating primarily on living a Preceptual life with Compassion and the offering of the merit of this to all beings.

The very many lessons I learnt arising out of this incident was that I enjoyed writing about matters that inspire me. And, I needed to look at the intent behind writing and run that past the Three Pure Precepts. Regularly!

Here is the beginning of a well-known prayer; it speaks of action. Each of us walk a unique path, the task is to recognize and respond to the path we find ourselves on…and not try and walk somebody else’s.

The Serenity Prayer

Please grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

This book helped transform my fear of big bears, and also become better educated about them too.
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6 thoughts on “What Big Teeth You Have”

  1. Hello Rev. Mugo,

    I’ve recently started reading your blog and am finding your posts so restful and affirming.

    I’m finding the need to return to your site regularly to balance some of the other qualities of “searchingness”, for want of a better word, that I find on so many blogsites (not meaning to discount the reality of that in one’s life at times).

    I read the chapter on grizzly bears at the site you pointed to, and found it fascinating. My brother used to live in the Yahk area, just north of the US border, giving me a context for your discussion. I found your decision-making process re publishing deeply meaningful, especially your words “Each of us walk a unique path, the task is to recognize and respond to the path we find ourselves on…and not try and walk somebody else’s.”

    This reverberates for me at this time as I strive to deepen my practice, amidst many challenges.

    Thank you.


  2. Jacquie, How wonderful to see you here! I’m honoured that you visit, thankyou for your kindness. Do keep a thought for all around the priory as we go through this time of change. (moving from this house to a smaller place).

    I will stop and look at your family blog, we have the same ‘dotti’ template too!

    I didn’t mention in my post that I read True Grizz sitting on a futon full of claw marks from a bear who had broken into the cabin that year and ‘played around’. Each night I would check and double check the shutters. Fun to be in the wilderness of Montana for a brief time.

  3. Hi Rev. Mugo. I don’t know if I understand this post. I mean I understand the words, but I have a hard time relating to the theme. I don’t like to think I have any limits on what I can do (within the precepts). This is probably one of the reasons I’m always fighting; walking against the current. I’m going to have to sit with this one!

  4. Hello there, Rev Mugo.
    I was wondering how your post could be appropriate to right action as a Lay Buddhist?
    Much of my actions (or maybe just my opinions!)begin to happen in the way that you mention.
    Is it that your involvement was not good solely because you are a priest, or do you mean that getting Yourself involved was not good?
    I ask because i notice that i have a bit of a predisposition to getting myself involved in things.
    I start out with a bit of enthusiasm and the best of intentions and then before i know it i ‘m often fighting a battle (not literally!), with seemingly less and less time and energy for stillness.

  5. Michael and Miles, Thanks for posting your questions. I’m a bit stuck for answers that would be helpful. However, at the end of your posts you bring yourselves back to the need for ‘sitting still’ and ‘stillness’ and that is always a good starting point for anything, especially right action. That’s true for any and all of us, no matter what our particular vocation might be.

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