Anthony Marr’s CARE-7 tour blog #5
Today is Vivianne’s last day before heading down to Los Angeles to meet with her spiritual master H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who, while based in India, has millions of followers worldwide. Her intention is to continue to persuade him to embrace animal welfare and animal rights in his teachings, and to establish an animal sanctuary near Bangalore. Some years ago, while on a pilgrimage to India, she saw, to her chagrin, indifference at best, and cruelty at worst, among the thousands of pilgrims. She went straight to the holy man to expressed her dismay, and did catch his attention, and later received his promise to do his best. But in doing so, she became the object of scorn and abuse of his followers. “How DARE you talk to his holiness in this manner?!!” And yet she is undeterred. Over the last few days, she crafted a 16-page letter to H.H., which she asked me to read, and this, in small part, is what she wrote:
“…I had a hard time going very deep into silence and meditation because of the stray animal situation at the ashram, and also because of two bad and sad experiences that happened to me while staying there, which I am going to share with you… Several times I broke my silence only to speak up for the animals who do not have a voice… I am so elated and happy that you told me in person that YOU and The Art of Living will do the very best for the animals. I can’t tell you my joy. Words fail me. Coming from you, I take it very deeply into my heart, because you do not say things lightly… Sorry, it is a little hard to hold back my enthusiasm, because when you are committed you do it in a very grand way with style and great power, which always brings fantastic results. I feel like you have finally heard me this time, and that you have felt the plight of the animal kingdom and Mother Earth. Don’t get me wrong Gurudev; it is not that I do not care about humans and children. On the contrary, I am always involved somehow to help them as much as the animals. Michael and I regularly sponsor one Indian little girl, one Tibet teenager, one woman oppressed war survivor and many children in the Sudan… I am not saying this to brag about us, no I am saying this with humility and only so that you are aware where my heart lies… in the Divine manifesting in all sentient beings; and only hope deeply to do so much more in the near future for many different causes… from human rights, environment, peace, (oppressed) women to animal rights issues… I am the voice for those who can’t speak… You always say to be passionate for the highest, the divine! Thus, I see the divine in all and feel the oneness in all creatures of Mother Earth… Indeed, some of the most powerful spiritual experiences of samadhi I have lived so far have been with my spiritual connection with the animals. The reason I am so persistent, and give great attention and efforts toward the animal cause, is that most people help the humans, but not the animals. In addition, the animals do not have a voice. Most people do not see the Divine in animals. Their hearts are still closed toward other species. Helping the animals is really helping humanity and oneself. And this volunteering (seva) is so humble Guruji. There is no glory, glamor, prestige, recognition, ego. On a personal level, only the unconditional love of the animals and the spiritual connection to the Divine Mother in them is the immediate beauty. What else can we want? Animal seva really exemplifies the Divine feminine energy at work at her best!
“Unfortunately, I often find a lot of opposition and sometimes strong animosity toward me from my brothers and even sisters because I help the animals… They look at me as if I were a fool. Perhaps, I am one!… But, it appears to me that many of your devotees and even teachers who are the closest to you physically don’t get your true teaching. It is time for the Art of Living organization to embrace animal seva all around the world! We do need to change fast, because there is not much time left for planet Earth. I take the liberty to speak on behalf of thousands of my dear brothers and sisters around the world who also feel the same way. We are begging you Guruji, we need your support and leadership within the One World family and the entire globe… I would like to stress the great importance of this urgent need to change the consciousness and awareness within the AOL organization around the world first before it can spread outward. But it must come from you first Guruji. I am not trying to tell you what to do, or pointing out only evil doings, only how your teaching can impact the world in the very best possible way, benefiting billions of creatures who are suffering greatly and also benefiting millions of these disciples and devotees who love animals spiritually.”
There is a lot more to her letter, and the rest contained mostly positive suggestions for change and new developments, but due to her imminent departure, her husband Michael led us to the place of an Argentinian friend name Ramiro in another part of Marin County for the rest of our stay in northern California, where I finished reading the letter. Upon completing my reading, I was moved to write her a letter in response, which she requested me to write. And I wrote:
“I have read your letter to your spiritual master. I must say it made you in my mind an even great goddess than before. It is sincere, honest, insightful, passionate, compassionate, and above all, brave. I cannot think of another person among his other millions of followers who would DARE to utter a single word in the form of a question, much less a statement, much much less an advice.
“I cannot believe that some of the senior ‘spiritual’ teachers could be so unenlightened, not to mention callous, arrogant, and cruel. It does not reflect well on your Guruji in the eyes of the world (like mine). The master is defined by his followers, and he is not being well served. The question in the mind of a common person in the street would be: ‘Is the grand master just the same as the lesser masters, who seems just the same as any animal abuser?’
“To substantiate my request, please see and present to your Guruji my “Champion of the Bengal Tiger” video in http://www.myspace.com/AnthonyMarr, and the “Year of the Tiger Special” in http://www.youtube.com/AnthonyMarr. The situation is more than dire. In another short decade, there will be nothing left.
“Your compassion warrior.”
Within minutes, Vivianne wrote back to me:
“Oh, my precious compassionate warrior, I hear you as clear as the moon reflecting on my soul. I totally agreed with you sweetheart. I will do my very best, and will always continue to be persistent with Gurudev. I will definitely bring the tiger in the forefront to Guruji’s attention as soon as I get a positive response from this letter/proposal. We need to give him a little time. The tiger issue would be one of the first campaign we can work on when we open the Sri Sri Compassionate Animal Center, and you could be the leading force behind it since you are an expert on the issue, and I would make sure Guruji knows it… I will talk about it in my next letter to Gurudev so he can bring it up in India. Thanks so much for your heart felt and poignant letter to me. I am so grateful.
“In my heart and soul, I always feel that is so crucial to be authentic and genuine with our convictions regardless who it is… Guruji is my master, the most precious gift i can have in my life and I feel very close to him, so it is natural to pour my heart and soul out to him. It has to be that way, otherwise he is not my master. But, yes I agree with you – not a lot of devotes will dare to say one word! That is why i am a Goddess!
“And you are the other precious gift to my life and humanity. I am so honored to have you as my dear friend and compassionate warrior. Now you and Anthony D. go hunt big time…. yes go hunting the hearts of the animal hunters! Shoot millions arrows of divine love and compassion into their souls!
“Love you so dearly,
Why do women make me cry so easily?
Now for something lighthearted. Ramiro is a very handsome Argentinian man, with a very handsome house with a very handsome view. He has vacated his house to stay with his girlfriend for a few days so that Anthony D and I could have his house to ourselves. He is an expert horseman, and since I used to be a horseman myself, we talk horses and humane equestrianism, and shared our horse pictures. When it was his time to go, he said casually, “Here is the house key, and here is the key to the Ferrari.” Anthony D and I were dumbfounded.
I thought he was joking, but upon opening the garage door, there it was, a dark silver Ferrari convertible whose model name I could not begin to guess. I’ve always disdained pricy status cars, and would not presume to drive this one anyway, but I did sit in the driver’s seat as the real joke and had AD snap a couple of pictures for fun-sharing with a few friends. Marla Stormwolf-Patty, who had always said that I was the most “Zen” person she knew, wrote back, “I like these candid shots of a very cool vegan. You’re the only person I know who can look zen behind the wheel of a Ferrari.” And I wasn’t even in the meditative position!
Later, Ramiro dropped by for a brief visit, and told me that he was selling the Ferrari, saying that it was not his kind of car, and that he did not want to be stared at while he was driving. So why did he buy it in the first place? No, he did not. Someone could not repay a debt to him, and gave the car to him as payment. He had not driven the car for over half a year. A very fine man.
In the afternoon, we dropped by the IDA office, when Dr. Katz personally wrote me a $1,000 cheque in support of our endeavor. I was greeted warmly by Hope Bohanec who passed my blog #4 to her friends, and met Renee for the first time. Long may IDA run!
Tomorrow, we will move on to Santa Cruz and Monterey for a veg potluck and another speech. Then, southward down the coast to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, where I will see my dear friend Coby Siegenthaler yet once again.
At 4 pm on Sunday the 17th, I’m slated to speak at the Animal Liberation Forum on Long Beach, to be followed by Lorri Houston at 6 pm. I asked the forum the expected duration of my speech, and was told that it would be up to 80 minutes! Wow, that’s almost 1/4 of my favored time frame!
In closing, I wish to thank the following Global Anti-Hunting Coalition volunteers and friends who have offered me and Anthony Damiano their invaluable support, both practically and spiritually: Tia Terrel (NJ), Marla Stromwolf-Patty (CA), Christine Miller (FL), Michelle Yorty (PA), Cristina Reyes (Australia), Nan Sea Love (CA), Eve Loves Cher (NY), Paul Fusch (CA), Lane Ferrante, and of course Anthony Damiano. I feel very blessed to have them in my life.
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)
http://www.facebook.com (search for “Anthony Marr Heal Our Planet Earth)