The Rock Beast

The aborigine, I cannot pronounce his name, led me across the land. It was a journey away from the white man’s life, and I carried nothing of the city, of electricity, cars, or money with me, not even a camera.

It took days, during which we lived off the land and I began to feel a living connection with the earth, with what grew from and in the earth, and with the animals.

As the sense of connection grew, I understood that it had always been there, but like most of us, I had been ignorant of it. My sense of it had been dulled, maybe almost obliterated, by ready packed food, meat already killed and cut, fruits already found and picked. Now I was involved in the search, in hunting for food, and in taking it when found.

In that new condition I was led to the hill. It was in a rather jumbled landscape, covered in some trees and scrub. And the hill rose from these surroundings, without great height or significance. But it was near the base of the hill the tribesman stopped and looked at me expectantly. I wasn’t sure why, but I could see tracks had been made to this spot by the passage of many feet. And where we stood was clear of scrub and natures debris.

Then, after watching me for some time, the man fell upon his knees, obviously moved by some strong wonder, and prostrated himself toward the hill.

Nearby, at the foot of the hill, great rocks were thrust out of the soil, and it was toward these the man looked and directed his adoration.

At first I could discover no understanding, and began to explain the event and journey as a superstitious ritual that I had no kinship with, and no need to follow. But it puzzled me why such a man, who was mature in a way of survival I was still an infant in, who was in no way a fool in his connection with the reality of the land surrounding us, should take this journey and fall before the rocks. And as I thought this, I realized what a conceit the white man’s ideas of native superstition are, and what amazing ignorance they hid. So I let my prejudices melt and gazed at the rocks.

Then slowly my blindness was eroded to reveal an older and deeper way of seeing. Gradually the rocks took shape, and I could see the magnificent head off a great beast. The rocks and their hollows suggested a huge muzzle and eyes. And still the vision cleared, and I felt the rocky beast was thrusting up from the depths of the earth; that the very earth and rocks had through unimaginable time become the beast.

I paused as the image penetrated me in this wild place. Then, further depths became revealed and I too fell upon my knees. For in the beast I then saw all creatures, myself included. And my heart knew the Beast as that grand mysterious process that emerged from the very rocks, the soil and processes of our Earth, and pushed, dancing through all its levels and forms, thrusting into life, into being, and into consciousness. And I knew myself as one face in the multitude of the Beast’s forms; a moment in its emergence, a footstep in its movement onwards.

What I had taken to be superstition and idolatry, I now knew simply as recognition. The rocks were rocks. But that deep life in me saw their shape and called upon me to look upon what they represented in myself, and see my wonder. For the Beast was the life within myself that had through untold ages lived and struggled and unfolded on our earth.

Then too I knew the great Beast in me was hungry — hungry for food, hungry for experience, yearning to be all it could be. And I knew the beast only consumes itself – for there is nothing else in this great circle of life.

That savage man then stood before me searching my face as we laughed and wept in recognition of each other.

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