The roads leading to and from our home in Great Waltham have witnessed a trail of slaughter in the four and a bit years we have lived here. Crumpled, blood-smeared, tyre-decapitated corpses of foxes, rabbits, badgers, pheasants and hedgehogs dotting the routes to Chignal Smealy, Pleshey and Howe Street. Carnage that offers a free source of protein to the corvids, but messy as fuck to look at.
When I get on the bike again in the next few weeks, it is almost guaranteed that an animal corpse or two will litter the route. A year or so ago it occurred that by stopping and removing the body from the road, I could give the victim a smattering of dignity. I have lifted dead badgers and one very young deer onto the grass verges. They are not light.
Accompanying these ceremonies, I quietly chant the Great Compassion Mantra, learned back in 2012 from the Hanmi Buddhists. It asks for compassion for all deceased and living beings, protection from suffering, and assistance with the spiritual journey. It feels like a suitable purification rite for the poor buggers mangled by vehicles. I do the same for the dead mice, birds, voles, and rats that our cats bring to us.
Does it make one iota of difference? No idea. It just feels right.
It was enjoyable to memorise, like learning a poem at school. Here is how it sounds out.
Ong ah shay hong, ong moni beni hong
Nama redna zayaya, nama bangawaday,
Bia sara, buru madena, data gataya ahaday
Samyasam buddaya dayata ong
Dara dara, deri deri, duru duru
Ai-zhay, weh zhay
Jali jali, bejali bejali
Sawa galita, sawa garma
Add in my Essex accent, and you have something to conjure with.
Another ritual of mine happens last thing at night. No, not that.
This involves eyes closed, left hand placed over heart, right hand over navel.
I visualise a golden light, radiating and welling in the heart area. That light is my love. I imagine and feel it intensifying, linked to my love for Maureen, or the kids, or maybe friends, neighbours and family. I envisage it shining outward from my chest, shafts of golden light reaching out across the room, the house, the village, the fields, the treetops, the towns, rivers and seas. To everyone within a radius of hundreds or even thousands of miles. Having done this regularly for some time, a point is reached where imagination and feeling become one and the same.
Then I stop, bring my hands together in prayer, just touching my lips. And whisper inaudibly, ‘my love is yours’.
It is known as the Blessing of the Inner Sun. Based on a Hermetic philosophical notion that the inner light from any individual can illuminate vast corridors for the living and the dead.
All very mystical and unknowable, but, again, it feels correct, good, benevolent and a great thing to do before a head hits a pillow.