August 24, 2011
As Buddhists, our compassion shouldn't begin and end with human beings. For this reason, every issue of Tricycle features an "Animal Realm" column on our sentient, non-human friends. In the current issue, Rick Bass writes about the incredible black rhinos of the Namib Desert. At one point, he considers the relationship between interdependence and extinction. From "In Namibia":
Elsewhere, crystalline salt patches sprawl gleaming like pools of spilled paint, around which butterflies congregate by the dozens, feasting, gathering the minerals and nutrition that will help empower them to return to the desert floor above, to aid in the pollination of so many desert plants and flowers, upon some of which the rhinos graze. From a distant enough perspective, I suppose a viewer could say that a butterfly is a rhino, or that a blossom is a rhino; and that a flooding, charging river of tumbling, clacking boulders and cobbles, drying weeks later to the sheen of hard-baked salt pan, is a rhino: for all of these things, great and small, conspire to create a rhino. In this made and healthy world of Namibia, it may be that there is nothing that is not a rhino—and yet we almost ran out of rhinos.