The Eternal I

A dharma sister of mine pointed to this wonderful poem by Jane Goodall, the famous primatologist who really wanted to be a poet Laurette. Louis Leakey was the British paleoanthropologist and archaeologist who inspired Jane Goodall to become a scientist.

Her work with the wild chimpanzees for 45 years in Tanzania is legendary. She studied the social and familial interactions of the chimps and is often found among them in video clips.

The relevance of this poem is about learning to know “the Eternal I,” or as we might describe it in Buddhist terms, the Ultimate Reality. Jane tells us to go about learning who we are in relationship to our self, our environment, and and our universe. We are the universe and the universe us.


When the night wind makes the pine trees creak
And the pale clouds glide across the dark sky,
Go out my child, go out and seek
Your soul: The Eternal I.

For all the grasses rustling at your feet
And every flaming star that glitters high
Above you, close up and meet
In you: The Eternal I.

Yes, my child, go out into the world; walk slow
And silent, comprehending all, and by and by
Your soul, the Universe, will know
Itself: the Eternal I.

– Jane Goodall

My cousin, Dr. Stuart Altmann was a zoologist during the time of Jane Goodall’s worked with the primates. He worked with rhesus monkeys and baboons. His point of view was not to get involved in the lives or population of the primates. This approach differs from Jane Goodall’s in that she embedded herself into the primates she studied.

My questions is, which type of study, Goodall’s or Altmann’s has more scientific merit? What do you think? Which approach would you take?

Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey
Reason for Hope is on my bookshelf!

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