Wednesday, May 17, 2006

With Rope and Binoculars

Alpacas in the early morning, Cornwall.

Here is a transcript of a talk broadcast on BBC Radio Cornwall yesterday.

During the next three months on our farm, some of our alpacas are due to have their babies. This is a time of great excitement and some nervousness. These creatures are so beautiful and sensitive that it is natural to want to help them and to protect them.

Because of this, one of the world’s leading alpaca experts recommends that all alpaca owners should have two key items of equipment ready for the birth. The first is a rope, the second is a pair of binoculars. The rope is to tie yourself to a post some distance away from the alpaca to stop yourself interfering with the birth; the binoculars are so you can see what is going on from a safe distance.

Maybe in this there is an important lesson for all of us. Sometimes the best thing we can do in life is just to resist the urge to leap into action and try to take control; sometimes it is better first to stay still and just watch. This can be uncomfortable – we want to be useful and helpful, we want to be part of the action, we want to avert disaster. And often we have to acknowledge that there is little good that we can really do, and our interference may well cause or at least add to the problems.

So in the words of a recent Zen Master:
‘Don’t just do something; sit there!’

Andrew Taylor-Browne, Lay Minister of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives.

Good advice I'd say. There will be more talks on a Buddhist theme from Andrew all this week.