How I wanted to feed the millions

First of all, I have a confession to make. I love animals. Dogs, cats, reindeer, humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins…you name it, I love it. I love looking at them, observing them, they fascinate and entertain me. As I child, I read the Jungle Book umpteen times.

Now. We are on a trip to Japan and we want to visit Nara and its famous great statue of Buddha set in a temple complex in a deer park. As a meditation coach in training I cannot wait to see the great Buddha with his mysterious, pacifying smile. As a lover of animals I cannot wait to see the tame deer mingling among the visitors. I have heard stories how cunning and ravenous they are, but for me they are these cute children of god, the gazelles in the park in Sarnath where Buddha started to preach… We take the train and after a pleasant ride arrive to Nara.
We are not even in the park yet when we see the first deer. He is walking lazily across the street halting the traffic. We enter the park. Walking past the first temples we can hear a small girl scream as a deer snaps a paper bag from her hands. He walks a few steps away from her and chews on it, looking dreamily into the mid-distance. We continue. The density of the deer increases. I am getting more excited. I know you can buy packets of biscuits to feed the animals and I cannot wait to do it. We reach the massive wooden gate to the Todai-ji complex, where the Buddha is. The deer are everywhere. The proximity of the Buddha, the deer, it all makes me overexcited. I imagine we are in the 7th century BC, this is the Sarnath gazelle park and I am one of the Buddha’s disciples. I cannot wait to commune with the animals. I want to feed them to confirm the unity of the kingdom of god. I feel like a reincarnated deer. As we walk on among the herds, I can see them eyeing me, measuring me up. I am undeterred. As I venture towards the nearest vendor, the deer start to follow me. The lady in the stall smiles and sells me a packet of biscuits. She has this mysterious, Buddha-like smile. As if she wanted to tell me something… As I reach for the packet, a big head snaps at it from under my arm. I take a few steps away from the stall, look around and see I am surrounded by deer. There are maybe 10 or 15 of them. My excitement mounts. I will feed a whole herd! I will make a good deed, improve my karma! The circle around me is getting tighter and tighter…

The deer are snapping at the packet, I have to hold it high above my head. While trying to open it, tens of eyes are watching me. I back off in panic, I can feel the mass of deer pushing me. I make one more step, there is something behind me, I lose balance, and fall on my back…

I find out what has happened, stand up, check my bruises and walk away in a dignified way. The deer are feverishly devouring the biscuits scaterred all over the ground. My fiancée runs up to me with a worried look and asks if I am ok. I try to laugh it off. Of course I am. After all, I fulfilled my mission. I fed the deer!
As we pass a few of them, I can see they have this innocent, lambish look as they wait for another victim. I look at them intimidatingly and walk on feeling as the master of the Universe.

photo by Lucia Supova (