For various reasons, I have been reading into the samurai lifestyle and bushido. To be a samurai, a warrior must face their own fears and recognise the inevitability of death. This way they can live a Zen lifestyle. While I’m not a samurai nor am I particularly bushido or even a zen buddhist, I did think to try to apply this to my own meditations.
So, I decided to make contact with bear.
I think I’m very reasonable in my fear of bears. As a child I found an article in my favourite RSPCA magazine about bears and it left me incredibly upset to the point I couldn’t even look at the bear photograph on the front. I have also encountered wild bears in my life and would happily never ever encounter them again.
Warning: video contains graphic animal violence.
It took me some time to get around to the idea, but in the end I figured I’d rather visit Bear than, say, Wasp.
Unusually, I began within a cave. Not like Crab and Bat’s cave with the crystals and water, instead it was dry and very plain in comparison. I began walking around and found a large crevice to crawl through.
I fell out, unsuspectingly, into a huge swamp. The mud was thick and I landed knees-first into it, sinking a good few inches in. When I threw my hands out to catch myself, they too sank into the brown sludge. Immediately I began to feel incredibly unsettled and nervous. That was before I had even looked up.
I took a breath and called out, “Bear?”
I looked around and saw only sagging trees and earthy green vegetation amongst the swamp. I looked down again and struggled to sit up properly in the mud. I looked up and saw Bear.
Despite the fact I have encountered many forms of bear in my life from brown, to grizzly and even panda, I was not expecting a sun bear.
Perhaps it’s my general fear of bears, or the rather disturbing appearance of a sun bear anyway, but I found it seriously difficult to keep my eyes on her. I was filled with terror, more fear than I have probably ever experienced. For some reason this great bear totem terrified me more than any encounter with the animals themselves.
I couldn’t say much, but fortunately for me Bear seemed to understand this. She told me, “Go now, try another time.” I nodded, without looking at her, and pulled myself from the mud and crawled back into the cave. Despite my fear, I felt a very maternal vibe from her, especially wih her soft feminine voice.
When I returned, Bat fluttered down and landed on my shoulders in the form of a large fruit bat, then crawled around to hook themself on each of my shoulders in what seemed to be a comforting embrace.
When I have spent more time visiting other totems, and when I am ready, I shall probably visit Bear again.