A story by Cheech (Frank) Marrero
I believe it was 1975 when Adi Da Samraj asked me to take on the responsibility of taking care of the animals at Fear-No-More Zoo at the Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary. For me this was a big deal, considering that I’d lived in New York for all of my first thirty-eight years. The only time I remember seeing animals was at the Bronx Zoo, and in the movies. The first time I saw a living cow was when I drove out to California in 1972.
In any case, I took my new service and responsibility very seriously. Each morning I would milk six large goats and take care of two llamas and some birds, chickens, ducks, and other small animals. That was my daily ritual.
One morning, about a month into my new job, Adi Da received three miniature goats that were gifts from His devotees. Two of the miniature goats were ewe’s and one was a billy goat, whom Adi Da named Herbie. Herbie, He said, reminded Him of a Jewish pawn broker that He remembered from His days in New York.
Now, Herbie was no ordinary billy goat. He was very, very aggressive and obnoxious. Right from the beginning, Herbie and I did not hit it off. I fed him, and I yelled at him when he would get wild and aggressively obnoxious. Besides that, Herbie smelled terribly. So I just kept out of his way as much as possible. Otherwise I would deal with him verbally by yelling, or by pushing him out of the way. I soon began scheming of ways to get rid of Herbie.
One morning while carrying half a bale of hay toward the feeding bin, Herbie charged into my left shin with his horns! I yelled and screamed with pain, and immediately started screaming profanities at the goat. I chased him around the large enclosure and threatened to kill him if he ever did that again. Herbie just looked at me and gave out a few irritated bleats. I went back to the hay bale. As I lifted the hay high enough to drop into the bin, Herbie rammed into my right shin! I yelled and screamed again. The pain was incredible. That did it! No mercy! I went hobbling after Herbie as fast as I could. I finally grabbed his horns and whirled him around the top of my head, then flung him about fifteen feet across the yard. He got up, looked at me indignantly, bleated and barked, and prepared himself to come at me again with his horns. At that point I decided that Herbie was just nuts and I should leave him be for now.
When I arrived at my room I saw a note inviting me to come to the Manner Of Flowers, Adi Da’s residence, at 7:30pm. Delighted, I showered, changed clothes and arrived at the Manner Of Flowers in time to watch Adi Da playing a game of pool with another devotee. There were about thirty other people there watching the game. Adi Da would stop here and there and make little comments to those around Him as He moved around the table. Everything He did and said was pertinent to each individual and to us all, constantly drawing us beyond our egoic limits. When Adi Da came around to where I was standing, He bent over as if to make a shot. But just then He stopped, and turned around to face me. His face came very close to my face, and as His two huge eyes looked into mine He said, “Cheech, don’t you ever again treat Herbie like you did today.” I was stunned. I had been alone at the zoo that day, and there was no way anyone could have witnessed the incident between me and Herbie. Adi Da was revealing again that He knows everything about me. I bowed my head and said, “Yes Beloved.”
The next day I received further Instruction from Adi Da. He wanted to inform me that all the animals at Fear-No-More Zoo were His devotees and that I should immediately understand that I was responsible for their care and well-being, and also for their sadhana (spiritual practice). He said He was working with each animal in just the same way He was serving me and all His devotees, and in fact, all beings.
I immediately changed my act with the animals, and especially with Herbie. I started cleaning and brushing Herbie every day and taking really good care of him. And with that Herbie also immediately changed his behavior. In fact, Herbie and I became good friends. He began following me around as I did my chores, walking next to me like a faithful dog. He would even nuzzle up to me. I realized then that the problem was never with Herbie. Rather, the problem had been my inability to love and bring life and good energy to Herbie, and to all the animals. As soon as I changed my relationship to them, and simply brought them good energy and attention, they responded in kind. I also began observing this same process occurring with all my friends and associates and people in general.
In gratitude to Adi Da Samraj for this simple but important lesson I wanted to share this story.