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March 12, 2019

Honoring Our Spirit Animals: National Elephant Day on March 13.

Elephants Are Huge Right Now.

I’m seeing them everywhere! And it’s not just because I am in Thailand volunteering at an elephant sanctuary.

Tim Burton’s adaptation of “Dumbo” is coming out on March 29, 2019. I have such mixed feelings about this. Tim Burton has long been one of my favorite filmmakers. I haven’t seen his remake yet, and I want to see how he reinterprets this story. However, I cringe at the thought of perpetuating more stories where elephants are used as circus attractions. These mighty, noble creatures deserve more than that.

Perhaps in Burton’s new version, Dumbo flies away from the circus entirely in the end. One can hope.

On the other hand, the documentary “Love & Bananas” premiered less than a year ago, which chronicles the building of some revolutionary sanctuaries in Thailand. Nick Brandt recently had an awesome photography exhibit in the UK, bringing attention to the mutual suffering brought to humans and nature alike from environmental devastation. There’s all kinds of art being made on behalf of our elephant friends, as well as exposés revealing their cruel treatment for human gain. Many petitions and social actions are taking place to end their torture for human exploitation.

Let’s Celebrate Their Lives!

In happier news, March 13, 2019 is Thailand’s National Elephant Day! Even though elephants are the national animal of Thailand, not everyone even knows this. My Thai friend, Ann, said she didn’t know it was a holiday until she started working for the sanctuary.

But it’s a big deal here! Elephant Day for our 18 elephants at Elephant Nature Park’s Surin Sanctuary entails:

  • an elephant buffet, where all kinds of gourmet fruits and veggies are laid out for their sheer enjoyment
  • a monk blessing the elephants
  • many people will come visit the village to pay tribute to their presence
  • plus, my League of Heroes and I will be doing an art project with the elephants!

The art we are co-creating is not the kind where the elephants are beaten by bullhooks to paint pictures for tourists. We are making paint out of fruits, veggies, and mud. We are creating an elephant playground, of sorts. We will be letting them be their own artists and seeing what kind of fun and natural magic these liberated beings can create.

We’re also creating eco-enclosures for the elephants so they can be free all day, every day. It’s a complicated dance, this co-existence. But we’re partnering with the compassionate mahout elephant guardians and local children of this village to do some deep healing. To use our creative powers to make a change that all the beings can benefit from.

If you’d like to know more about how this project came to be and how to get involved, you can read more here: The Elephant in the Room.

Being Spiritual Beings

I believe creativity is the spark of our enlightened nature shining forth. This sacred world is in a constant cycle of creation and destruction. As conscious beings, we all have the capacity to be an active part of this co-creation.

Elephants have long been revered as symbols of spiritual strength and wisdom. But there is a dissonance in the way they are being treated—the suffering they endure because of hunting, labor, and entertainment industries. Perhaps it is indicative of the nature of suffering in samsara. And, perhaps, if we are truly on a conscious path to awakening, we can end the cycles of suffering and treat them with the respect that all living beings inherently deserve.

Please join us in co-creating a new earth by taking a moment to honor an elephant today. We can breathe in for their suffering and breathe out a prayer for their liberation. In this way, we are honoring their existence and creating a bit of space in our hearts for their freedom.

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