cave drawing of mongolian horse
Saw a movie earlier today, The Horse Boy, nonfiction documentary; camera follows a couple and their autistic boy 4 years old. They had sought and found help, but nothing worked until the child discovered a horse. They found he liked horses and any other animal. The boy's father, Rupert Isaacson, had lived among the Kalahari of the western South African desert and Namibia. His book, The Healing Land, is a study of their shamanic healing. Later, with the boy, he learned about shamans in Mongolia having to do with horses. He took a plane with wife and child to Ulaanbaatar, surprised to find the city in post-Soviet depression. They found the man who would take them into the grasslands and the mountains. The first shaman they encountered helped the boy and sent him to another shaman among the Reindeer People of northern Mongolia, one known around as the shaman with the most power. They made it to the shaman after a two-day horseback ride over rugged mountain trails. The child had already begun socializing with other kids. He'd never played with other kids. The man who must have been their hired guide had a son the same age who went with them because the autistic boy had been healed by the first shaman of his inability to function with other kids and, for the first time, found a playmate. The shaman of the Reindeer People brought the child around. The film was a hand-held camera quest to Mongolia into the remote regions where shamans continue to dwell. The story was good, the people interesting, but it was Mongolian faces and landscape that held my interest foremost, the horses with tails almost to the ground, horses about the size of a donkey. I felt drawn to Mongolia. I watched the landscapes as if I were in them. Every time I see pictures of Mongolia, I look deeply into them imagining myself there, wanting to see all the way around, wanting to be riding a Mongolian horse, speaking the Mongol language with the people around me. In short, I want to be there.
Tibet might be the only other place I feel drawn into when I see pictures or films of Tibetan life. I look at Tibetan landscape with a similar longing to be there. Movies and documentaries of Tibet pull me into them like this film today, wanting to be there to see and smell the way of life, be a part of it. Probably the b&w movie, Lost Horizon, I saw on tv in childhood kicked off my interest in Tibet. Reading Lobsang Rampa's The Third Eye soon after high school took me there. Interest in Mongolia came about by way of a stamp collection made from packages of stamps advertised on the backs of comic books for fifty cents. My favorites were the Mongolian stamps. I think they used Mongol stamps for filler because so few people wanted them, but I loved them. I would sit in my room studying the stamps and wonder about Mongolia. I knew where both Mongolia and Tibet were on my tin spinning globe. I'd lie in bed at night before sleep imagining Tibet about as far from Kansas City as could be, completely on the other side of the globe. That was where I wanted to be, someplace as far away as possible and remote, days to get there by donkey or on foot. The only problem I had with running away to a Tibetan monastery was intuitive knowing that I had much ahead I wanted to participate in that didn't include meditating all the time. I wanted to live my life, not bury myself at the beginning. I had an intuitive feeling in the early years that the spiritual path is best lived in the world of everyday life, whatever one's circumstances. I wanted to live my life spiritually, but we didn't know that word in the 1950s. Then, it was religion. Religion let me down; so I said, Screw it all, and set about trying to figure out how to live in this world. There came a time that what I got of it I did not want. I came to the mountains to try to figure out how to live in the world but not of the world. Not for religious reasons by any means, but matters of the spirit. Most likely it was my karma to be born into a religious system that could give me a good biblical foundation, then spit me out.
I was feeling my heart pull me into the Mongolian landscape and the Mongol people, beautiful faces. I like their quiet. I feel more at home there, it seemed like, than I feel here. I noticed myself drawn to the people as my people, the people I longed to be among this lifetime and it didn't happen. The horses pulled me to them like horses never do. I think horses are beautiful, would rather ride a horse than a car, though care nothing about riding one in this civilization where having a horse is like having a boat, a hole in the water you throw money in. I have no longing feeling toward horses. I have a feeling when I look out the window and see the donkeys similar to seeing the Mongol horses, a feeling in the heart, wanting to jump on one's back and ride. I watched the horses closely. They are small horses, powerful horses. They're like donkeys with horse heads and long horse tails. The culture of the people interests me watching them interact in the film. I wonder what they are like to know individually. They favor somewhat the Eskimo of the Arctic. It was people from that part of the world that crossed the Bering Strait 15,000 years ago. A few years ago, reading Jiang Rong's Wolf Totem took me into Mongolia. Jiang Rong was a Chinese college student who was sent to work in Mongolia when he graduated. It engaged me from first page to last. It was rough living and I wanted to be there. Later, I found a biography of Genghis Khan that is another of my favorite reads. He is the Founding Father of the country Mongolia. Before, it was bands of warlords perpetually at war with each other. Genghis Khan brought them together as a nation and gave them a set of laws. We tend to think of his name synonymous with genocidal warlord. Like King David. If King David was God's favorite, then Genghis Khan must have been another of God's favorites. He was truly a great man. Coleridge's Kubla Khan was his grandson. Genghis was a serious challenge as a warrior, too. I've seen two films of his life; one, a Japanese production in Japanese medieval outfits and speaking in Japanese. It was a good film. Something like doing Shakespeare in modern dress. The other was called MONGOL, a German production using Mongols in the cast, attempting to be as true to the place and time as possible, a close biographical rendering and a beautifully made film.
genghis khan in the film mongol
In a dream I took for a past-life experience, I was a hunter and warrior, sent with a friend, another hunter and warrior, to slip across the border into China and appeal for peace to some high official. We did not return. In a regression I saw self in a Mongol lifetime on horseback, a time of severe famine. I am satisfied that I've had several lifetimes in Mongolia. The feeling that was pulling my heart today, seeing the landscapes, the horses, the people, it feels like my soul, most innermost self, is partial to my Mongol lifetimes. It was a feeling of home. I lived the experience with the father of the boy in his interactions with the country people who rode horses and kept herds of radiantly beautiful Mongolian horses. It was noted in the film that the Mongols were the first people on earth to ride horses. Their culture all the way along, as far back as the beginnings of Western Europe, has been in relation to horses. I believe they have absorbed by such close association some equine behavior into their own. It's like Mongolian culture is, or used to be, one with the horse. Something like American Plains Indians, the Lakota, Cheyenne, Comanche, and the others along buffalo grazing grounds. I do feel like my soul has a longing for Mongolia. I've read a bit about its history and every time I see a picture of Mongolian landscape and people I dive into it. It's a frustrated longing for something that is not to be this time. This time I came to America in its moment as Champion of the World to see it squander its great good fortune throughout my lifetime, the Age of TV, and watch it split down the middle into civil war intolerance driven by a popular venality from the dark side hypocritically calling itself Christian. The steppes of Mongolia and the poverty of a post-Soviet economy look like Shangri-La from here.
kubla khan on the black horse