Nowhere else are camels so fully regarded and respected, simply for who they are.
We don’t consider them lesser, or greater, than we are. Looking into the eyes of anyone, it’s clear that, at heart, we’re all the same.
The camels are not commodities, to be bred and sold for profit. They aren’t trained to give rides, cater to tourists, or anything that humans might command them to do.
Two parallel influences converged in this understanding, and resultant process.
The bold, unapologetic, wisdom of Adi Da Samraj is the guide of it all.
Through many lessons, challenges, and tests, he drew us to an understanding that we’d never have received had he just told us what to do. Among many things, he encouraged me to get into the breeding and selling of camels. This required me to explore, in depth, the attitudes developed through a life of ordinary experience and knowledge, both my own and those I’d inherited.
He also charged me to combine with the camels, and really come to know them through spending time together, while his profound wisdom gradually dismantled the plethora of flawed ideas we all labor under. This is a moment-to-moment process of considering everything about mankind’s, and my own, narcissistic, self-imagined, “control”, and “ownership”, of the world, and all others living here.
“The collective of human egos presumes it is fit to govern even the entire world of beings and things! How can it be?” – Adi Da Samraj
Early one morning, July, 2012, the young “K2” turns to look at me.
Barely a month old, his dark eyes penetrate my being, confirming everything Adi Da ever said to me. Suddenly, I’m relieved of all alliances with mankind’s presumptive ownership of non-humans for profit and power.
One glance from innocent K2, and millennia old misunderstandings dissolved.
The day I decided against ‘the selling’, we had two camels, Sage and Phoenix, technically still for sale. A man came to look, and made an offer.
“How about I gift them to you, instead?”, I proposed.
As I spoke, I felt myself slipping into another world. I’d broken rank with humanity’s near universal cult of ownership. As I listened to my own words, in slow motion, life’s familiar structures crumbled around me. The chains of that old prison unraveled, and something new opened.
The good man stepped away, thinking me unhinged, perhaps. We shook hands and he departed, still looking for a camel he could buy and own.
My gesture mocked one of the ancient precepts of man – that it’s our right to own animals, places, things, and one another. In this world so mired in buying, selling, and owning others’ lives, I now had to find a way to do things differently. Interestingly, the camels opened themselves up even more to me. Now, none of them would ever be sold, and they sensed it!
Adi Da never sat me down and said, “Stuart, here’s how I want all this to be done!”
Instead he made room for me to grow, inspiring with broad strokes, hints, criticisms, and genius skill, generating in me an authentic investigation of reality. At the time I would have preferred to have been told what to do. Often the lessons seemed harsh, unnecessary, and difficult, sometimes frightening, but all of it was necessary and good. He masterfully guided me through it all, and still, pushing and pulling me beyond self-made limits. The outcomes were always unfathomable. This gradually instilled and refined a responsibility and sensitivity for Adi Da’s vision, and my service to it. At times I argued and resisted, but he always gave me space to go through each confrontation, and move forward, clearer, stronger, simpler. It was always my choice to keep going. I could have quit anytime, but why? The process was so real, alive, and true!
So the camels here are not viewed conventionally at all. We honor the sacred in them, as in all life. We treasure their culture and learn from their ways of being. We engage them in a consensual manner, respecting and giving them the choice to be involved, or not. Providing we do this well, in honest relationship, we discover mutual favor, in which our respective intelligences recognize and honor each other. We willingly participate together. Sometimes we choose not to. This can all develop into riding, pulling, ploughing, trekking, playing, working together, whatever — and happily, without force. We are equally intelligent beings, so there’s no need to discredit, over-control, dominate, or break spirit.
It upsets me to see what most horses, camels, and other animals live through; mostly unheard, and barely seen for who they are. For centuries, humans have condoned slavery of non-humans (as well as humans) on so many levels; caging, beating, torturing, researching, breeding, buying and selling, and separating families, groups and friends – for selfish profit, science, and pleasure. It’s gone on for so long we think it’s acceptable, doing whatever we want, supported by the texts of stupefied religions, and gutless science.
If you really look into their eyes, and souls, you know that most of what we do with animals is indecent. We continue to do it because we fear change. No one person is to blame, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also grow! If you’ve seen into the heart of life, any life, you’re obliged to change and grow. It’s what sane humans do. (The camels do it!) We’re inevitably changing anyway, so better to grow than not.
Our engagement with the camels begins by developing a relationship of fundamental trust and respect. The results aren’t important. Healthy response is what’s important. First is building the connection, the free-flowing conversation; finding common ground to participate together respectfully. The relationship, not the technique, is the point. It’s about a balanced, honest, relationship, loosened from neurotic co-dependencies, coercive behaviors, and un-inspected ideas. The human being must be willing to grow through any and all limits to build honest relationships.
The camels here are happy. They live together ‘spaciously’, as a herd, doing whatever they want to. They aren’t boxed, stabled, corralled, or round-penned. They have their life, and a good one. Of course, in any situation with mankind, and in the wilderness, too, there are limitations that we and the animals must endure. Within a world of limits our camels have a large range of choice, as should everyone. They choose to wander in through the pastures to engage with us, and they choose not to. We’re always looking for ways to increase their field of choices.
Many people already ‘own’ camels, horses and other creatures, and are limited in what they can do differently with their animals. Changing can be hard. The need must first be acknowledged. Our main encouragement, in all cases, is to give as much care to the animals as you can, within the conditions you’re faced with. Just as animals in human care face and suffer limits, so do we, poor slobs! So even on this level we’re the same. Therefore, compassion is required, and the ineffable grace that moves us to new action.
Always foster a world where everyone can receive life and respect, where none are denied.
Change comes. Old ways fall down. Newness emerges. Each breath requires profound faith of a kind. None of us owns our breaths. We are not living ourselves. We are being lived! So too, the earth, and all creatures here.
Honor the Sacred in All Life, allowing all things the grace of change.
With great respect to everybody, this is the intention, and commitment, of the Sacred Camel Gardens.
But this is the seed of something growing, that will grow, if mankind succeeds these uncertain times.The Sacred Camel Gardens’ supporters make this “adventure into mystery” possible for all of us, together.
Each supporter, personally, is a hero, because none of this would be possible without you!