Of Apes and Men

When we first came across Tom, he was resting in the shade of some towering jungle trees.The large orangutan sits beneath the trees at forest edge gazing across farmlands and expired logging tracts. The human apes moving about the palm oil plantations must appear confused and bewildered to this calm old man.

A small bird flits through the bushes to sip from a rocky pool. The orangutan scratches his backside and yawns, takes a leaf and chews it…

What is the fundamental human threat faced by orangutans and other non-humans?

Watching an ever-increasing number of people moving about the forest, felling the trees of biosprit-subventionen-indonesienhis vanishing home, the quiet ape, sensitive to how things are, must notice that humans are motivated by an unusual kind of thing…

To the orangutan and other non-humans our efforts of life are anxious, vague, trying to reconnect, be sustained, all but lost now to what the non-humans naturally know.

Like us, the red apes of the forest do know fear, and death. And they suffer too, in the orangutan way. But they, and all other-than-humans, respond to such things in a different manner than we. The squirrels, the flitting birds, the deer in the meadow, the turtles underwater, all accept more easily the cycles of life, and threat, and death. These are simply elements in the stream of life and, unlike us, non-human beings are folded more naturally into the water’s flow. Their manner of living shows a profound intelligence. If carefully observed their lives point us to deeper realms of awareness, and to our Selves.

palmA younger orangutan arrives and sits beside the old man. They glance at each other. A broad hand rests across the younger’s shoulders. Orangutans must wonder why some humans seek to destroy the forests while others work so hard to protect them.

What is so different from our passionate intentions to save and preserve wilderness, and our other urges heralding its ruin? Some of us fear losing healthy forests, oceans, and skies, and others are afraid of not fully exploiting them.

To the calm ape it must be plain that humans are living by a single, common, fear – regardless of the differing outward goals we imagine and indulge in.

The orangutans sit close, shoulders touching, at forest edge, in warming sun…

None of our conservation, deep-ecology, or environmental preservation will save their kind while our other hand simultaneously deals in destroying them, along with their habitats and homes.

Humanity is a single force. Differences within it, for and against, are only imagined.

The destructive machine of human unconsciousness grinds forward regardless of ideas for positive change. Our efforts against ourselves, and each other, are not change.

Change must find everyone, all together, all at once. Change must warm the very heart of humanity before it will lighten the extremities, and all our activities.

orangThe orangutans climb back into the forest and disappear among the leaves and shadows. The small black bird flits from the pool to a nearby root buttress, tail twitching…

Like the ape in his simple apeness, our inherent humanity, found and exercised, can more deeply inform and sustain all of our life, and allow room for all other life.


Until we allow unity, feeling intelligence, and profound calm and kindness to become the motive for how we participate in the cycles of Earth, and for how we make our human home here, no lasting (real) conservation will ever be given by us to this world we so intimately depend upon. As if lost we will only continue to suffer our ancient fear, confusion, and sense of separation from all life, until we discover another, more intelligent, wiser way to live – free of fear.




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