maturity

Let Us Look Carefully

Exceprts from "Teilhard de Chardin's 'Planetary Mind' and Our Spiritual Evolution," On Being, Jan. 23, 2014: 

In these confused and restless zones in which present blends with future in a world of upheaval, we stand face to face with all the grandeur, the unprecedented grandeur, of the phenomenon of man. What has made us so different from our forebears, so ambitious too, and so worried, is not merely that we have discovered and mastered other forces of nature. It is that we have become conscious of the movement which is carrying us along. Let us look carefully and try to understand. And to do so, let us probe beneath the surface and try to decipher the particular form of mind which is coming to birth in the womb of the earth today.


Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, from The Phenomenon of Man (1955)

Ursula King

The milieu in the French sense is the center, but we also use milieu in terms of the environment. Something comes together, like in a diamond...but then it radiates throughout the entire. God is everywhere, in a sense, hidden, not visible, but somehow reachable.

The Divine Milieu is a wonderful phrase. I think he has this dynamic awareness from his evolutionary approach. One could call his spirituality also an evolutionary spirituality, as some people do. And he feels that we are today at a very, very important threshold of immerging into a new phase of humanization, of becoming human, in a different way from the way our forebears were.

They pull from the future and towards the future. And he's less and less interested in the past and more and more interested in where are we going, what are we doing with the potential we have, with the imagination, the creativity, the consciousness, the complexification of people thinking together and acting together. What is all this aiming for?

David Sloan Wilson

Teilhard de Chardin thought of Christianity primarily as Christian love and as the leading edge of a belief system that was capable of uniting people from all walks of life based upon love. I don't think we're any more spiritually advanced today than during Teilhard's time. I think in some ways we've gone backwards. And when we think of what it means for spirituality to be the leading edge of evolution, we need to understand what spirituality means, what words such as spirit and soul actually mean and why we're impelled to use them in everyday life. And when we do that, I think we can come up with a very satisfying meaning for them, which need not require a belief in supernatural agents. 

We can speak frankly about having a soul and even our groups having a soul, our cities having a soul, and even the planet having a soul. That actually can have a straightforward meaning...

Evolution only sees action. Whatever goes on in the head is invisible to evolution unless it is manifested in terms of what people do. So if what's inside your head, if your meaning system does not cause you to act in the right way, then it is not very good as a meaning system.

We want a meaning system that causes us to be highly motivated to act and, of course, do the right thing. And in modern life, that needs to be highly respectful of the facts of the world. And then we also need to have values that we're more aware of than ever before and we must then use those values to consult those facts in order to plan our actions basically in a world that's increasingly complex and which requires management at a planetary scale.

Andrew Revkin

I share his optimism overall. I think our potential for good as a species has always dominated the potential for bad in the end and this just amplifies those same tendencies. None of the issues that we face on the internet are unique to the internet. They're all part of who we are. In a crowded room, the loudest, angriest people, whatever their ideology, tend to get the most airtime. So one thing I try to do on my blog is try to build tools to foster some input from the quieter people.

Another metaphor that comes to mind is it's as if we've been plunked at the wheel of a speeding car, but we haven't taken driver's training and there isn't even a driver's manual for the car. We're rounding a corner and the weather is foggy and we're accelerating [laugh]. So in a moment like that, you can either be hopeful or woeful, but it almost doesn't matter in the end.

You know, we're test-driving a new system here. Turbulence is normal, experiments in communication will fail as much or more than they will succeed, but I think our overall nature, to my mind — and it's an act of faith on my part as it was on his part.

Capable of Change

Sharon Salzberg, from "Embracing Our Enemies and Our Suffering," On Being, October 31, 2013:

They say that metta or lovingkindness is a practice of generosity. It's like generosity of the spirit. And the best kind of generosity comes from a sense of inner abundance, because if we feel depleted and overcome and exhausted and just burnt out, we're not gonna have the wherewithal inside, the sense of resourcefulness, to care about anybody, even to notice them all that much.

It's not only a kind of self-indulgence, but it's a self-preoccupation that happens when we feel so undone, so unworthy, so incapable of giving or whatever it might be, however it might manifest. So I really do see that factor of lovingkindness for one's self is this tremendous sense of strength and resourcefulness in terms of connecting to others.
 
I guess the one question that's very interesting to reflect on is how do I actually learn best? How do I change? How do I grow? Is it through that kind of belittling myself and berating myself and humiliating myself? Or is it through something else, some other quality like self-compassion and recognizing the pain or unskillfulness of something I've done or said and having the energy to actually move on?

So where does that energy come from? It comes from not being stuck. And how do we get unstuck? In fact, it's from forgiving ourselves and realizing, yeah, it happened. It was wrong. I'm gonna go on now in a different way because I'm capable of that. I am capable of change.  

March 1971

Listening to the recent On Being conversation with Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman on "Embracing Our Enemies and Our Suffering," reminded me just how significantly Sharon's practical insights have impacted my life.

I listened to an audiocassette version of Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness back in 2002 when training for my first marathon and before my first silent retreat. It was during this time that I also decided to leave the field of social work. I was tired. I felt exhausted, not by the people I tried to help who were suffering from mental illness or child abuse, but from the lack of reliable resources to give them. I spent my days evaluating emotional pain employed by organizations who seemed to have almost nothing (tangible or intangible) to provide in response to it.

So many of the professional helpers I worked with were glaringlly ill equipped to manage their own often serious problems let alone the challenges of people with billable issues. None of us were taught skills or strategies for taking care of ourselves or for maintaining healthy boudaries. A supervisor once said, "Social workers are a dime a dozen. If you don't want the job anymore, there are a line of others who will take it." This was in response to my trying to argue that the quality of work I was providing was beyond the expectations of the role as evidenced by my willingness to facilitate difficult treatment planning meetings in the absence of engagement from higher paid professionals.  

When you decide to leave the helping professions, people squint at you and shrug and tell you that you're burned out. But this diagnosis never rang true to me. We were constantly documenting that our clients needed to gain insight. It usually felt like a hollow goal. An imposed ideal. Everyone knows it's easier to be objective about another person's problems and what she could do to improve her plight. Isn't that what makes the perspective objective. But what was consistently lacking was an independent variable to test in the laboratory of the suffering person's life. Even if there was such a variable to tweak, however, there would still need to be some investment on the part of the person himself.

When I left social work, it was not due to burnout, it was the result of gaining insight.

I went in search of practical strategies I could experiment with to try to take better care of myself. I'd been attending weekly yoga classes with an exceptional teacher who uses a meditative approach. She pointed me to Jon Kabat-Zinn's Wherever You Go, There You Are which inspired me to experiment with bringing the practical strategies learned in yoga out into the ordinary activities of my life. When I heard about a four-day silent meditation retreat lead by Phillip Moffitt, I signed up months in advance. His wisdom articles in the Yoga Journal reminded me of the practical wisdom I'd discovered in these other books.

I was nervous about not talking for four days, but realized a few hours into the retreat that my worries had been misplaced. The silence ended up being a remarkable luxury, one that becomes more valuable as opportunities for experiencing it seem to become more scarce. What I wasn't prepared for was the rigorousness of the sitting and the boredom of the walking. This was problematic since these were the main activities we engaged in from very early in the morning until late at night. I was so physically and emotionally uncomfortable that I wanted to leave after a couple of days.

But when I met for my brief interview with Phillip, I told him that the only strategy that seemed to work when the physical pain became too intense to bear was the lovingkindness strategies I'd learned from Sharon's book. They involved considering the well-being of others and yourself. He suggested that if this approach brought relief, then perhaps it would be a good idea to include at least a bit of it during my daily meditation practice over the next two years to see if I noticed any impact.

I decided this prescription was either completely absurd or the most realistic suggestion about addressing some amorphous internal resistance that I'd ever encountered. Is it the consumerism that we're swimming in that makes us insist on instant resolution to our decades-old problems? When does anyone ever suggest more than ten or thirty days before promising to give your money back.

So I took him up on the challenge.

I attribute the consistency of my mindfulness practice since that day to this experiment. And I did notice an impact. But instead of noticing something being added to my life, I observed an erosion of an invisible barrier that I didn't know was there until it began to wear away. A wall between me and other people, but also between me and aspects of myself.

One of the most significant challenges I faced early on in the lovingkindess practice was trying to wish safety, happiness, health, and comfort for myself. Considering the well-being of the most difficult people in my life was much easier than this. I could simply not do it. It felt like a physical impossibility. One of the things I love about this work is that I did not need to get bogged down in this problem as a story to resolve. I did not go looking for causes, although looking back from the distance of years, I have some strong guesses about where the deeply ingrained self-loathing orignated. But reason alone would never have been enough to help me untangle them.

Freed from the Factitious Urgencies of Earlier Days

Oliver Sacks

Excerpt from "The Joy of Old Age. (No Kidding.)," by Oliver Sacks, The New York Times, July 6, 2013:

My father, who lived to 94, often said that the 80s had been one of the most enjoyable decades of his life. He felt, as I begin to feel, not a shrinking but an enlargement of mental life and perspective. One has had a long experience of life, not only one’s own life, but others’, too. One has seen triumphs and tragedies, booms and busts, revolutions and wars, great achievements and deep ambiguities, too. One has seen grand theories rise, only to be toppled by stubborn facts. One is more conscious of transience and, perhaps, of beauty. At 80, one can take a long view and have a vivid, lived sense of history not possible at an earlier age. I can imagine, feel in my bones, what a century is like, which I could not do when I was 40 or 60. I do not think of old age as an ever grimmer time that one must somehow endure and make the best of, but as a time of leisure and freedom, freed from the factitious urgencies of earlier days, free to explore whatever I wish, and to bind the thoughts and feelings of a lifetime together.

I am looking forward to being 80.

Read the entire editorial...


See also: "William Maxwell, the 'Wisest, Kindest' Writer," Fresh Air, Jan. 25, 2008

You Are Not Made Of Metaphors

The Type
by Sarah Key

 

Everyone needs a place. It shouldn't be inside of someone else. ~ Richard Siken

 

If you grow up the type of woman men want to look at,
you can let them look at you. But do not mistake eyes for hands.

Or windows.
Or mirrors.

Let them see what a woman looks like.
They may not have ever seen one before.

If you grow up the type of woman men want to touch,
you can let them touch you.

Sometimes it is not you they are reaching for.
Sometimes it is a bottle. A door. A sandwich. A Pulitzer. Another woman.

But their hands found you first. Do not mistake yourself for a guardian.
Or a muse. Or a promise. Or a victim. Or a snack.

You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and sweat.
You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses.

If you grow up the type of woman men want to hold,
you can let them hold you.

All day they practice keeping their bodies upright--
even after all this evolving, it still feels unnatural, still strains the muscles,

holds firm the arms and spine. Only some men will want to learn
what it feels like to curl themselves into a question mark around you,

admit they do not have the answers
they thought they would have by now;

some men will want to hold you like The Answer.
You are not The Answer.

You are not the problem. You are not the poem
or the punchline or the riddle or the joke.

Woman. If you grow up the type men want to love,
You can let them love you.

Being loved is not the same thing as loving.
When you fall in love, it is discovering the ocean

after years of puddle jumping. It is realizing you have hands.
It is reaching for the tightrope when the crowds have all gone home.

Do not spend time wondering if you are the type of woman
men will hurt. If he leaves you with a car alarm heart, you learn to sing along.

It is hard to stop loving the ocean. Even after it has left you gasping, salty.
Forgive yourself for the decisions you have made, the ones you still call

mistakes when you tuck them in at night. And know this:
Know you are the type of woman who is searching for a place to call yours.

Let the statues crumble.
You have always been the place.

You are a woman who can build it yourself.
You were born to build.

Everyone needs a place. It shouldn't be inside of someone else. -Richard Siken

If you grow up the type of woman men want to look at,
you can let them look at you. But do not mistake eyes for hands.

Or windows.
Or mirrors.

Let them see what a woman looks like.
They may not have ever seen one before.

If you grow up the type of woman men want to touch,
you can let them touch you.

Sometimes it is not you they are reaching for.
Sometimes it is a bottle. A door. A sandwich. A Pulitzer. Another woman.

But their hands found you first. Do not mistake yourself for a guardian.
Or a muse. Or a promise. Or a victim. Or a snack.

You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and sweat.
You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses.

If you grow up the type of woman men want to hold,
you can let them hold you.

All day they practice keeping their bodies upright--
even after all this evolving, it still feels unnatural, still strains the muscles,

holds firm the arms and spine. Only some men will want to learn
what it feels like to curl themselves into a question mark around you,

admit they do not have the answers
they thought they would have by now;

some men will want to hold you like The Answer.
You are not The Answer.

You are not the problem. You are not the poem
or the punchline or the riddle or the joke.

Woman. If you grow up the type men want to love,
You can let them love you.

Being loved is not the same thing as loving.
When you fall in love, it is discovering the ocean

after years of puddle jumping. It is realizing you have hands.
It is reaching for the tightrope when the crowds have all gone home.

Do not spend time wondering if you are the type of woman
men will hurt. If he leaves you with a car alarm heart, you learn to sing along.

It is hard to stop loving the ocean. Even after it has left you gasping, salty.
Forgive yourself for the decisions you have made, the ones you still call

mistakes when you tuck them in at night. And know this:
Know you are the type of woman who is searching for a place to call yours.

Let the statues crumble.
You have always been the place.

You are a woman who can build it yourself.
You were born to build.

Mature Wisdom

Topiary Park, November 4, 2012

"Wisdom, the Buddha says, starts with a simple question: What actions will lead to my long-term welfare and happiness?

The wisdom here lies in realizing that your happiness depends on what you do, and that the pursuit of happiness is worthwhile only if it’s long-term.

The test of how far your wisdom has matured lies in the strategic skill with which you can keep yourself from doing things that you like to do but that would cause long-term harm, and the skill with which you can talk yourself into doing things that you don’t like to do but that would lead to long-term well-being and happiness.

In other words, mature wisdom requires a mature ego."

~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu, from "Hang On To Your Ego," Tricycle Magazine, Summer 2007

The Ego Will Be Asked to Open to Something Larger

"The ego wishes comfort, security, satiety; the soul demands meaning, struggle, becoming. The contention of these two voices sometimes tears us apart. Ordinary ego consciousness is crucified by these polarities. Again, the paradox emerges that in our suffering, in our symptoms, are profound clues as to the meaning of the struggle, yet the path of healing is very difficult for the apprehensive ego to accept, for the ego will be asked to be open to something larger than itself."

~ James Hollis, from Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up

Willing to Take the Time and to Be Confused

I'm not sure if David Orr is talking about poetry here or mindfulness — or life. It's from a conversation with Jim Flemming (To the Best of Our Knowledge, July 2011).

"I think that all that people really need to know is that it's okay to be confused and to have whatever response you have...One of the things that you find the more you read poetry is that your taste changes over time...there are people you respond to differently at different times in your life. One of the most valuable things you have as a reader is your individual response...If you're willing to take the time and you're willing to accept the fact that you're going to be confused and things are going to seem strange or unpleasant, eventually it can be a really rewarding art form — one of the most rewarding art forms — if not the most rewarding art form."

See also: "How to Read Poetry Today," by David Kirby, The New York Times, April 8, 2011

The Need to Put the Values of Life above Self-Identity

Excerpts from "The Evolution of Change with Sari Nusseibeh," with Krista Tippett, On Being, September 15, 2011:

I do not see that the Palestinian has qualities that somehow differentiate him or her from being an Israeli or an Egyptian or anything else. Pluralistic by nature — to go back to my own upbringing and the openness of my being both a Muslim and having Christianity right in the middle of my own house at more than one level, my having been brought up in a Christian school, a missionary school that my parents who are Muslims — very Muslim — would send me to, was a reflection of a kind of openness of society that does no longer exist, I'm afraid, at the moment.

I think healing is important. I'm not sure how long it will take. I still feel that hope — not feel — I have a gut sort of faith in the fact that things will somehow right themselves, will eventually come back together. I'm not sure that we will be able to replicate what we had, but I think that with awareness, alertness, to the good things that we lost and the bad things that we've acquired and the ability to distinguish between the good and the bad, eventually we'll be able to create a new future with better, you know, with more things that are good, not necessarily the same.

I think we'd have to find a way to resolve the politics. You know, resolving the politics is something that's not impossible. And I think it's something that's happening anyway. It's not necessarily happening in the way that people assume it is happening. It's not happening in the sense of reading the headlines, that there's a solution and it's been signed by the two parties, but it's happening. It seems to me it's unfolding slowly in the sense that people on both sides are more and more aware of the fact that living in conflict is intolerable and that there is a way that can be found which would allow the two sides to live together.

Now, what way is not clear in my mind. For some time, it was two states. Perhaps in the future, it could be a federation of regions or city-states. I'm not sure how it will look, but I think, in general, people are slowly maturing, if you like, to the need to put life and the values of life as human beings above — not in place of — but above perhaps the more limiting aspects of self-identity and identification of themselves as being Jewish or Christian or Muslim or Arab or from this town or from that and so on and so forth.

In general, if you sort of compare between the attitudes of Israelis and Palestinians towards each other, fifty years ago, say, and today, you'll find we've gone through a sea change. Now, it's not been perceptible on a day-by-day basis, but if you make the comparison between those two periods, you realize that we've covered a long, long, long distance.

And if you ask people on the whole today, for instance, about two-state solution — I think even my mother would tell you — they're happy with a two-state solution, but it would have to be one to which also the other side would agree to. This is my mother's condition. And I think it's the condition that's probably put by most Israelis and most Palestinians. They're happy to come to solution on the condition that the other side is also willing to come to that particular solution.

And I think this attitude is new. I mean, it's open. It's basically saying we are prepared to live at peace. We do not wish to continue living at war, and that's, I think, what's most important.

Listen to the whole conversation...

Before & After: My Imperfection is My Nature

Photograph by Amy Arbus for The New York Times

From “Last-Minute Doubts, New York City,” interviews by Joanna Miller, The New York Times, May 1, 2011:

ANNA MEDVEDEVA, 24: The photo was taken the night before my breast-augmentation, chin- and neck-liposuction surgeries, and I was very confused and was thinking, What are you doing with yourself, girl? I spent all that day at home preparing for surgery. I was alone with my fear that night, and I was thinking that I wanted to change my decision. So I tried on the bandage that I would have to wear on my face after the surgery. I felt scared and called my best friend, who really helped me so much. My friend and I talked as Amy took pictures of me. In some, I was nude, and when the light went through the window from the street and I saw myself, I thought, I’m already perfect. My imperfection is my nature. Now, after everything is done, I love it so much. I look to the mirror, and I’m like: “Wow, you’re so sexy. I want you, girl.”

AMY ARBUS: A week before this photo session, Anna told me she was having plastic surgery, and I asked to do before-and-after pictures. Toward the end of this shoot, she started getting nervous about the surgery, and I said, “You can still change your mind.” She was on the phone a lot with her girlfriend, and when we were done, she was looking to see if she had heard back, and that’s when I took that picture. It was the last one I took.

The Bright Home in Which I Live

 

The House of Belonging
by David Whyte, from The House of Belonging

I awoke
this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that

thinking for
a moment
it was one
day
like any other.

But
the veil had gone
from my
darkened heart
and
I thought

it must have been the quiet
candlelight
that filled my room,

it must have been
the first
easy rhythm
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,

it must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.

And
I thought
this is the good day
you could
meet your love,

this is the black day
someone close
to you could die.

This is the day
you realize
how easily the thread
is broken
between this world
and the next

and I found myself
sitting up
in the quiet pathway
of light,

the tawny
close grained cedar
burning round
me like fire
and all the angels of the housely
heaven ascending
through the first
roof of light
the sun has made.

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

 

Preparing for Things that Matter Most

“Most people vastly overestimate the extent to which more money would improve our lives. Most schools and colleges spend too much time preparing students for careers and not enough preparing them to make social decisions. Most governments release a ton of data on economic trends but not enough on trust and other social conditions. In short, modern societies have developed vast institutions oriented around the things that are easy to count, not around the things that matter most. They have an affinity for material concerns and a primordial fear of moral and social ones…Governments keep initiating policies they think will produce prosperity, only to get sacked, time and again, from their spiritual blind side.”

~ David Brooks, from “The Sandra Bullock Trade,” New York Times (March 29, 2010)

We’ve Seen it All Before

Excerpt from the introduction of Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up by Norman Fischer:

Taking Our Places Another characteristic of maturity — one that any of us would mention — is experience. A grown-up is someone who is experienced and, through having lived long enough to have seen many things, has a point of view and a measure of savvy about how life works. There is certainly no substitute for the experience that accumulates as the years go by, but it is also possible to be alive for a long time and not really experience our living, not really see our life. The human capacity for self-deception and blindness runs deep. We may be alive, but we have not necessarily lived. If we accumulate experiences without really engaging with them, then our experience tends to make us stodgy and boring. As we catalog and define our experiences, possessing them without ever really being possessed by them, we begin to expect that new situations will just be repetitions of old ones. Soon we feel as if we’ve seen it all before. We know what to expect. Our point of view gradually becomes a set of blinders rather than a searching flashlight.

But if we pay close and open attention to our experiences, life’s larger patterns begin to come into view. We see that all things are transitory and unique. Nothing repeats. We understand that, though always instructive, the past can never tell us what the future will be. Within the larger pattern that experience reveals, there are endless variations. Insofar as we see this, our experience increases our wonder at and appreciation of all that happens. With little life experience, we might be naively excited by the novelty of a person we meet or an event that occurs. But when we truly appreciate our experience, we respond to that newness with a deeper understanding of its meaning and wonder as we relate it to what we have seen before. Far from dampening our sense of wonder, real experience refreshes and mellows it.

Become What You Are

Excerpt from the introduction of Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up by Norman Fischer:

Time is strange. We live within it, depend on it, take it for granted, yet it relentlessly passes, and our lives slip through our fingers moment by moment. Where does time come from, and where does it go? How is it that every moment we are different, we grow, we develop, we are born, we die? What are we supposed to be doing with this life?

After many years of grappling with these questions during the course of my long spiritual journey, I have come to have a feeling for their answers. We don’t really know what appears, what time is, where it goes. But we are here to try to understand. And we all have our own way of understanding, and of expressing that understanding through the living of our lives.

Each of us has a place in this world. Taking that place, I have come to feel, is our real job as human beings. We are not generic people, we are individuals, and when we appreciate that fact completely and allow ourselves to embrace it and grow into it fully, we see that taking our unique place in this world is the one thing that gives us a sense of ultimate fulfillment.

Bantu tribesmen, it is said, sneak into the rooms of their children as they sleep and whisper in their ears, “Become what you are.”

To take our place is to mature, to grow into what we are. Mostly we take maturity for granted, as if it were something that comes quite naturally and completely as our bodies grow and our minds and hearts fill up with life experience. In fact, however, few of us are truly mature individuals; few of us really occupy our places. We are merely living out a dream of maturity, a set of received notions and images that passes for adulthood. What does it really mean to grow up? How do we do the work that will nurture a truly mature heart from which can flow healing words and deeds? Each of our lives depends on our undertaking the exploration that these questions urge us toward. And the mystery is that the whole world depends on each of us to take this human journey.

The Full Flowering of Humanity

Coming Home “Enlightenment is the awakening to our primal harmony or, in another mystical language, to our rootedness in the Divine. From Enlightenment radiate the insight, compassion, and power needed to resolve individual and collective human problems as they continue to rise endlessly. Enlightenment is not a magical transcendence of the human condition but the full flowering of humanity, disclosing unity and equilibrium at the heart of the love and suffering we call life.

All existence is revealed to the Enlightened human being as a seamless whole, as Divine Life. Some taste of this Enlightenment which consciously touches the Ultimate is possible for each of us. It need not be deferred to any future existence in heaven or on earth.

Enlightenment is the secret essence of our consciousness, and the gradual revelation of this essence is the process of spiritual growth in which everyone is involved.”

~ Lex Hixon, from Coming Home: The Experience of Enlightenment in Sacred Traditions

Animals Never Lie

Excerpt from White Apples by Jonathan Carroll:

White Apples “Here's something you must know and don't forget it—animals never lie. They don't lie, they don't put on disguises, and they are always true to what they are. That's why you can trust them."

“Excuse me, but I do not trust lions. Or bears or snakes—"

"That’s because you want them to be the creatures you imagined as a child. Lions should be the strong but sweet beasts in a Disney cartoon. But they aren't, so when they start acting like lions you're angry at them for not being the fantasy animals you imagined. Real bears don't wear top hats and ride unicycles. Nor do they sleep in bed next to Goldilocks. Human beings force them to do those stupid things in circuses and films or children's books. Sure, some might be more docile or more ferocious than others, but in the end they will always, always be bears. You know you should never should turn your back on a bear. You should never even get near them; it's that simple. They're not being dishonest—you are in your perception of them."