Elephants and Rhinos and Miracles—Oh, My!

By Douwe vanderZee

As I co-led a group of people in the iMfolozi Game Reserve, the oldest game reserve in Africa, a large bull elephant appeared straight in front of us, on the same path that we were on. Sipho, my fellow guide who walked in front, made a U-turn and urged the group to follow him. They did not seem at all unwilling to follow him as he almost ran for safety.

In one of those rare moments of absolute knowing, and before my mind could interfere, I walked obliquely towards the elephant to get upwind from him (openness and transparency!), knowing that “nothing that I do or do not do will threaten my safety.” (A Course of Love T3:13.8)

The elephant started charging towards me, but I could feel that he wasn’t serious. Almost as if he felt that it was “the right thing to do.” I ignored him, and he gave up. He walked towards me and stopped about 20 meters from me.

“What an amazing animal you are!” I heard myself saying. I could feel he understood. We were in communion as we truly observed each other: Observation is an extension of the embrace that in turn makes the embrace observable. The embrace is not an action so much as a state of being. (T4:3.1)

The group had moved downhill, but were now standing where I knew the elephant wanted to go. I signaled to them to move away. As if he understood the elephant started walking towards them. “No, don’t go now!” I said. “They’re not ready for you yet!”

He turned round and stood watching me again.

Then, when the group had moved away, he turned and walked downhill.

At the end of the trail we were camped under a large sycamore fig, watched by three elephant bulls and seven white rhinos. A small breeding herd of elephants came over the hill. When the matriarch saw us, she faced us with raised trunk and flapping ears, and started trumpeting.

“Don’t worry,” I said to her in a loud voice, “we won’t harm your babies!”

She dropped her trunk and silently led her group into a dense patch of reeds next to the river. By this time it was almost dark.

And then, one by one, little inquisitive elephants started appearing from the reeds very close to us. There is no way in which the matriarch would have allowed that if she did not feel absolutely safe.

Several participants were rather nervous, and were “testing” me with their questions, as if saying: “Can we really trust you?!”

It depends, of course, on who they meant by “you”. In the world of illusion I had been trained as a zoologist, with all the assumptions that go with it. As CEO of the Field (Nature) Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) it had been my role to ensure that field guides, or “game rangers” as they are often called in South Africa, were trained in line with those assumptions. Now all that “knowledge” was utterly useless, and only by relying completely on a much deeper knowing could I experience the miracle: The miracle is true seeing. (C:2.10)

And so the first person went on night watch surrounded by elephants and rhinos, and a crocodile in the river next to us, and there was absolute peace.

It is now three years later, and the participants—a group of farmers from around the town where I live—are still talking about that trail. When they do so, I observe a deep joy within them – and within me. Such is the nature of miracles.

As a child growing up in South Africa, Douwe sought refuge from loneliness in nature. To study biology seemed to him the natural thing to do, but after a master’s degree in zoology and a few years as scientist he resigned as oceanographic research coordinator to pursue his interest in the human psyche and its Source. In a remarkably varied career since then, he has acted as counselor, group process facilitator, mediator, overland and wilderness trail guide, high school teacher, permaculturist, writer, “playmate” at a preschool, and CEO of the Field (Nature) Guides Association of Southern Africa—all external forms of an internal quest for peace and Truth. Predominantly through A Course in Miracles, Eckhart Tolle’s writings, and A Course in Miracles, Douwe says “I have now come to accept A Course in Miracles‘s instruction that ‘the idea that you do not have to earn your way nor pay your way must be birthed and lived by.’ I cannot claim that it came without frequent deep and intense fear, but the result is ever increasing joy as I, as an ordinary person, move towards ‘living an extraordinary, and miraculous, and observable life’.”

The Kingdom of God’s Love

By Elliott Robertson

After we spent 100 moments in self-forgetting,

After we shared a pipe and vowed a friendship everlasting,

The innocence was tarnished by the judgments

Of the smallest mind; we could no longer see

Each other as we were in Light.

After we trained our eyes to see only illusion,

And in the net of the material

We forgot just how breathe,

In despair we told the trees, our children,

Life was a barren desert without treasure or reprieve.

We told the gods our fate would sweep us clean.

After we awakened to the Kingdom of God’s love

And placed our costumes on the floor before his throne,

We no longer held to fate with fear,

We no longer needed judgments,

They slipped away.

The Truth shall always free us

From the pain of our illusions.

When we shower each other with the treasures

Of our breath,

The smallest mind recedes

And once again we see within the souls

Of one another

Holy light.

Elliott Robertson lives in Philadelphia. He has been reading ACOL for several years.