We Have Not Come Here to Take Prisoners

Posted by on October 20, 2013 in On Life | 0 comments


by Christina Carson

I borrowed the title from a poem of the great Sufi mystic, Hafiz. The translation is one of Daniel Ladinsky’s. The first stanza reminds us:


We have not come here to take prisoners,

But to surrender even more deeply

To freedom and joy.


    The prisoners Hafiz refers to are us, creatures who tied themselves to a way of thinking that smirks at the notion there is anything to know about this world except what our five senses bring to us. It makes our experience of life something that would send our dogs or cats into a laughing fit, their version of saying, “Oh come on, …you don’t really mean that, do you?”

I say that because last night I once again watched another episode of The Dog Whisperer. Cesar Millan is a man who frees both dogs and people from the prisoners they have become—the people, because of how they think and the dogs, because they are stuck with the people. I can sit and watch the various “teachers” of our time talk about this notion of imprisonment, read their books or listen to their CDs, but they cannot offer what one episode with Cesar can reveal. As he says, “He rescues dogs. He trains people.”


       Cesar and Junior


So what does he train them to do? To be a bit glib, I’d answer, he trains them to speak dog, or cat or tree or bird or bush. What do I mean by that? He introduces people to sensing what happens around them through assessing shifts in energy, something that every part of the universe does naturally to its immense benefit, but us. Somewhere along the way, we determined that the cognitive was synonymous with intelligence. We’ve been taught that the more we can think and speak about, the more brilliant we are considered. If we’d be honest, we’d have to own that it hasn’t really worked for us. The pile of unsolved problems does nothing but grow. Yet last night watching Cesar Millan, Bert, Adrienne and I saw a young, married couple and their deeply disturbed dog—change. Truly change. The dog, a rescue dog liberated from a hideous situation, was what Cesar calls a “red zone dog,”—one of those who, if set off, responds from a sense of a life or death struggle.These young owners had a dynamite keg in their house with the power to kill. However, their commitment to this dog AND each other opened them to Cesar’s training, for to live with that dog, they could not remain prisoners to their fears, their despair, or their sense of failure. They could not be the source of unbalanced energy that might set the dog off, and they had to get in touch with their own instincts that can sense flux in their energetic environment.

They had already seen this dog in action, had been party to breaking up several dogs fights at that primal level of survival, had been deeply frightened by it, and yet realized that if they backed down from this fear, they were backing into an ever smaller corner of life. At a level of commitment not many parents willingly offer their children these days, they took on facing their fears and venturing into a world they had not previously known—the intuitive state, which dominates this world and exudes continuous data on balance and imbalance. With the sensitivities of their red zone dog, they had to be able to intuit how he perceived the moment at any point in time, so they could interrupt his habit of response while it was still at a low level. For the rest of their lives with that dog, they had to live as in tune with the environment as he did. Said in our modern day idiom—they had to remain continuously present with the moment.

Cesar worked with them for a number of months, and the last scene of that episode was that of two young people, each with a quiet , relaxed pit bull on a lead, their lives more deeply and caringly lived than ever before, smiling at Cesar in thanks.

I call Cesar Millan the greatest living guru on this planet. No one else I know demonstrates the interconnectedness of all things and offers a tangible possibility of regaining conscious membership in that sacred circle that is life unconfined, life as it was meant to be lived, beyond fear, despair or desire. He offers people, through their love for their dogs, a way to return to freedom. He sets them on the road that actually leads to a living present, to honoring their intuitive nature, to rejoining the family of life, the great mystery which when sensed intuitively makes us shiver with awe.

And the poem ends with:

For we have not come here to take prisoners

Or confine our wondrous spirits,

But to experience ever and ever more deeply

Our divine courage, freedom and,


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Thoughtful comments are always welcome!


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