Crossing the Steppes with Mindful Loving:
A narrative about gratitude and appreciation for the Earth

I am sitting on a volcanic outcrop somewhere in eastern Oregon, overlooking what is known by some as the “Sagebrush Steppes.” All along these steppes are mesas and buttes, resembling tables of giants set up for some great picnic. The sun is rising high enough now to warm me as I listen to the Hum and songbirds chirping within it. A cow grazes below. Yama sits next to me.

DISCIPLE: Yama, I am watching the cow feast upon this beautiful land here, this BLM land. It is free-roaming, which I like to see. It is content; it feels part of the scenery. However, cattle trails crisscross this area, the delicate flora trampled, and I know that our livestock is causing environmental problems — like belching methane.

YAMA: Yes, and your point, or should I say, concern?

DISCIPLE: Well, yesterday, after meditating and then thinking about this geological expedition that my son and I are on, how we are traveling with seven vehicles as we cross the deserts of California, Nevada, and Oregon, I guess I was feeling a bit guilty. We are camped on this land, impacting it by just the tracks we make, the wood we burn, the literal crap we leave.

My question is: Should we even be here? Would it not have been better staying in our homes, keeping our vehicles there from spewing into the air? I also wrestle with this issue in regards to field trips with my class as we send forth large caravans to various destinations.

YAMA: How conscious is your party? How appreciative are they of the land you walk or drive across? Do you mitigate the damage you may be causing? Is there any good coming out of this for one’s self-growth and the greater humanity, or even for the Earth itself?

DISCIPLE: Yes, I would say all of us are appreciative of this land, that is why we are here. We clean up our sites and any previous garbage we find — hell, we even pack out our used toilet paper! There is goodness as we are educating our teen children to the beauty of this world and the science of geology.

And in terms of growth, I cannot speak for the others, but my spirit soars in the emptiness of this type of landscape, and many paintings will come from this. We have shared ideas and knowledge of which I will bring back to the classroom, and for my edification.

But I am not sure about whether we have given anything back to the Earth.

YAMA: You spoke of that cow below as part of the scene; yet, it is also damaging the Earth. Is it helping the Earth as well?

DISCIPLE: Well, I guess it’s cow patties fertilize the land.

YAMA: True, but what about spiritually? Modern humans tend to forget that the Earth — just like you humans — are more than your physical bodies. The quality of the cow — its archetype, if you will — is part of the consciousness of the Earth Mind. So are you. When you embody the best, your human essence, you are giving that to the Earth Mind. You become a beautiful thought. When all of humanity comes to that place of Mindful Loving, you will transform the Earth.

DISCIPLE: Tell me more, teacher, about Mindful Loving, as I do so much want to help this beautiful world.

YAMA: In your classroom, you have your students create balls of clay. And they are allowed only to use their hands to mold it. They carefully and mindfully find the planes and the cracks and gently round it into a sphere. And then you have them hold each other’s creations.

How do they react at first when you ask them to pass the ball to another?

DISCIPLE: Well, their ball is like their baby. When there is reassurance that no one will mess with their ball, they will let go and will receive their neighbor’s with reverence. And the whole class beams in silence.

YAMA: That is Mindful Loving, each working to make their sphere as round as can be, without judgment, just awareness, and holding each other’s in open awareness without the need to fix.

The environmental changes the Earth and humanity are facing is not so much what humans are doing on the surface of the planet, or the atmosphere; it is more about being in a state of Mindful Loving — or as the majority of humanity is at this point, Mindless Ignorance. Gratitude and appreciation every human would love to receive; the Earth is no different. If humankind had such a foundation, then your technologies that are blamed for the environmental crisis would reflect a more positive attitude.

DISCIPLE: So, I take it that wherever I am, however, I may have traveled there, if I am in the Mindful Loving space, I am helping the Earth?

Yama smiled just as the cow mooed down below, a most contented moo. And I knew that she and I were right where we were supposed to be.

Yama is the name of the Hindu god of Death as well as a name for Dharma, which is a Sanskrit word that may be translated as doing what one is allotted to do. It can also mean following the Still Small Voice instead of the loud urgings of the ego. Yama has said in my book, The Teachings of Yama: A Conversation with Death that he comes as Death when we do not listen to him as Dharma. When we are following him as Dharma, there exists no Death for we are in the Eternal Flow of Creation. Yama came to me after a dream that turned into a poem and then into the book. Yama is not a channeled entity. Yama is only a point of focus in the ocean of inspiration. I am fully conscious, and there exists no separation between Yama and me.

In these essays/stories/teachings, I use the term disciple to indicate that I am speaking, for I seek to know the truth of who I am. For without knowing who I am, all is filtered through that ignorance. I wrote it in the format of a play. Why? Because it is a play. A Divine Play, or Leela in Sanskrit.

More Yama Teachings

Intro to Yama

Having a Beautiful Day Amid Chaos

Compassion in a World of Idiots

The Coronavirus and Ways of Karma

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