Taster #3 – “Encountering Another Being”

This third taster for The Seed Beneath the Snow The Sequel reflects one of my favourite entries from David Fleming’s Dictionary for the Future – “Encounter” – where he becomes less the intellectual economist and more the poet, attempting to describe a kind of mystical experience.

As it happens, he takes the perfect example from the work of our Deep Time explorer, Dr. Stephan Harding, Coordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College. Thinking through the best way to put this on film, I struck gold when I asked Stephan himself exactly what the experience of encountering another being means to him:


Filming that sequence was a delight. Stephan was every bit as poetic as David, and I believe I managed to find a piece of music that could express something of the timeless moment he described.

The only problem was the muntjac deer. There are muntjacs in the woods near where I live, and I was pleased when I managed to get some footage that could be included (I hope it’s not too great a surprise that filmmakers don’t rely on the deer in question just turning up when filming a reconstruction like this, for all our good fortune with the train in taster #1!). However, when I showed the first rough-cut to Stephen, he gently pointed out that the muntjac deer I had carefully captured was actually a roe deer… Whoops. Time for a change of deer! So now you have the right deer starring (and staring) in the film. I hope you like the result.

Following up on some of the comments received, here is a variant version of the taster. Of course in the final documentary this will change again.

Next stop will be filming a repair café as part of a sequence about Transition Towns, a worldwide movement heavily inspired by David Fleming’s vision.

It sounds a really good idea – free repairs to ailing goods to keep them out of landfill – but I’ve never been to one, so it’ll be fascinating to see how it turns out.

107 Responses to “Taster #3 – “Encountering Another Being””

  1. Lia Scandariato Says:

    Absolutely incredible. A new, separate dictionary would need to be made for me to truly comment.

  2. Yvonne Hinson Maskus Says:

    I like this approach and look forward to seeing and learning insights from more encounters. Personally walking in the woods is a favorite pastime but a recent relocation plus “elder injury” makes it more difficult to do very often. So of course I’m very happy to view this type of post.

  3. Adrian Künzel Says:

    Everything I do is exactly summed up in what Mr. Harding says there in the first moments of the film. Can I join? Can I meet him and you others in the back of your fanpage? 🙂 I am a bodyworker and coach showing people how they can drop their intellectual conception of the world, how they are trapped inside their minds instead of meeting it.

  4. Shaun Chamberlin Says:

    @ Lia Scandariato: How about this one? 🙂

  5. Maureen Simpson Says:

    Beautiful ❤

  6. Yves Pires Says:


  7. Jurga Bouremanne Says:


  8. Kerstin KT Trimmel Says:

    Mother Nature and the animal kingdom, animals are my favorite teachers, they keep teaching me all that is important in life. I feel much more connected to them than to human kind and feel the most calm and peaceful just sitting watching and being with them. Forests are magical to me, powerful, filled with knowledge you can’t find in books and ALIVE in perfect harmony.

  9. Lucia Brack Says:

    Only when you have felt this, can you truly understand it, holding a space for nature, letting it be, and in doing so , you experience being … as part of all there is …

  10. Geoff Bogacki Says:

    the description of seeing through those you encounter is beautiful 🙂 have been fortunate enough to have a few of those primeval ‘magic’ moments…they are great levelling moments that put who we are into perspective…

  11. Steve Wilson Says:

    So much like Martin Buber’s thoughts. Additionally, Buber became aware of how essential it is to maintain the meeting in the space of relation as meeting. He shied away from the temptations of mysticism where the “I” might, in bliss or terror, fancy it had engulfed or been engulfed by the Other. The pinnacle of human experience is not to be limited to the domain of our commonality, clothed as it is in the richness of the complementarity of our physicality, nor in some material or spiritual singularity. The pinnacle of our Being is not to be found in God…. as in, I Alone Am, but in community where We are Together taking our stand in the space of relation – celebrating diversity, celebrating I am not You …. We are together….it is great to meet You….. Greetings friend! We talk too much about unity and not enough about the celebration of being together in the space of relation, which is, after all, what Love is and does.

  12. Ester Manitto Grazie. Says:

    When I feel lost I go whit my body in a wood, I just walk… and if I can’t go with my body I go with my thoughts… one day I met a fox, our eyes for a few second were connected … we became the same thing with all the Earth for the rest of our life….

  13. Mel Burridge Says:

    I found the explanation of encounter so very overwhelming. I am so glad people like you exist and hope you can spread your awareness throughout the planet.
    I fully understand and experience encounters but would never have the words to describe or explain to most of my fellow humans. Thank you.

  14. Tim Kearns Says:

    You shouldnt have entirely anhialated the Indigenous australians…
    They knew way more than what your struggling to grasp….
    Capitalisms dead

  15. Rosa Tomrop-Hofmann Says:

    Have had these similar experiences with foxes, squirrels, hares and deer and with the forest itself. It makes everything about modern life insignificant!!!

  16. Meg Supeck Says:

    Deeply moving….adored it, learned from it, felt from it. I’ll never look at my pets the same way! Bravo

  17. Katt Sui Zoe Karouzos Says:

    Thought you might like this…. it’s profound and intuitive being in a scientific field

  18. Daniel Skinner Says:

    This is an excellent departure point. I suggest you invite Arthur Zajonc to contribute as well, I look forward to more!

  19. Jenifer Leonard MacAllister Says:

    I absolutely loved this!! Thank you for sharing. I look forward to seeing/hearing more.

  20. Luke Donnelley Says:

    Seta Saberian “infusing my whole being with muntjac-ness” lol. Oneness.

  21. Devan Phenix Says:

    When I encounter a deer in the backyard, I give some advice out loud: “Dont trust all of us”.

  22. Elluria Breytenbach Says:

    Such a beautiful video that resonated deeply – and what a wonderful way to describe it to people who may not have experienced nature in such a deep and meaningful way

  23. Sonia Bhardwaj Says:

    Its beautiful! and most important is that it reflects upon the real study or wholesome study of another being. and i feel when Jane Goodall studied chimps years ago, she must have encountered each chimp in a similar way. And it moves my soul.

  24. Ila Cooper Says:

    The treasured moments when for a brief spell you’re acknowledged
    and accepted
    into the wild space of our planet ❤️….something many never experience….it’s a recognition and an understanding like no other

  25. Lena R-Nilsson Says:

    When I spend time in a forest I feel that I am where I am suppose to be. I feel that I am one if all the beings in nature. And we become as one. This is the greatest feeling. It is like a meditativt state. It gives me energy. I can’t imagine life without this!

  26. Anna Fisher Says:

    I spend most days in 100acre wood and can totally relate to this piece, the treat is to encounter wildlife cohabiting the space, then it becomes a timeless space before
    “ man controlled the earth”

  27. Carole Lacy Says:

    To experience interconnectivenes in this way is what life should be about. How sad that so many of us seem to have lost that awareness in today’s busy world. This video is inspirational.

  28. Caressa Hanh Truong Says:

    Great video. I can’t wait to see the complete documentary on David’s work. I will definitely feature this post in my classes.

  29. Timothy Dukes Says:

    There is no better teaching than this if we intend to continue as a species.

  30. Peter ArmstrongMichelle Hassett Michelle Hassett Says:

    That was a spiritual encounter. Oh to spend my life in the natural world!

  31. Snow Lion Says:

    Encountering is not just seeing or hearing that’s being on the outside. You have to become the space in between the encounter where the lines are blurred.

  32. Mike Jones Says:

    the experience of this man is what all sapiens experienced until the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, all the time. We started disturbing our environment systematically which led us to viewing life other than our own group as object (or resource) rather than living being, We obviously haven’t lost the ability in the past 10,000 years but culturally it is a necessary casualty. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-E71lCH6Ow

  33. Connie Heppner Mueller Says:

    Love, love, love!! Nature has so much to teach us and this documentary seems like a great tool.

  34. Sue Trotter Says:

    I too have experienced encounters. I was diving on the Great Barrier Reef and as the other divers moved away from me I was so engrossed in looking at corals, nudibranch and other small creatures I was just a part of that undersea world. I turned and there behind me, gazing into my eyes was a Manta Ray. Close enough to touch had I reached out and we both looked at one another. My feeling is that being totally present, in the moment and part of the environment, was what drew it to me. I cannot describe it, only to say it is the most beautiful encounter I have ever had.
    I had another with a deer that came to see me whilst I was sat on a gate in a field, with my dogs lying nearby. Again I was what I can only describe as deeply linked with the planet, an almost meditative state, and again the animal approached me.
    It feels such an honour and privilege to be chosen for such a meeting and the connection is at a deep and primal level.
    I’ve even experienced it in a zoo with long held eye contact and an understanding. Also with trees, when I can feel them (but that’s even harder to describe without sounding like a lunatic).
    Our spoken language really doesn’t suffice for this sort of thing. The closest I can get is that it is a kind of deep connection, at a soul level.

  35. Catriona Hamilton Says:

    Wonderful…as a Forest School project leader we actively encourage our participants,usually children, to experience these encounters, a simple ‘meet a tree’ (blindfolded & guided, to then explore through touch & smell) then once seeing, identifying & finding ‘their tree’ to give it a hug. Another activity we do is to sit silently in a chosen spot away from the others and using all our senses, to breathe in the sights,smells & sounds in the woodland, to be aware and be part of it. We have tragically lost our connection, everyone needs to be shown how to re-connect, it is the very best therapy anyone can have

  36. Mary Vango Says:

    Pure poetry! Humanity has such an exquisite opportunity to embrace this way of thinking & being but sadly, our present world has hijacked the sensible soul and blinded their vision. With more films and reminders such as this, we may have a crack of forcing the doors of perception open once again. Keep filming please, some of us are waking up!!

  37. Mary Reinhardt Says:

    Just want to say “Thank you” for these words…I have been looking for the words to teach others about connecting and communing with the natural world. While I have more work to do on this, you have given me a start and some inspiration. It is encouraging that a scientist is able to reach beyond the intellect and into the intuitive.

  38. Özgür Says:


  39. Noni Collins Says:

    Thank you for introducing me to David Fleming, his book Surviving the Future is now on my must read by the end of the year list. Any film you produce with his insights will be welcomed by me.

  40. Nick Peterson Says:

    What this ecologist describes here – this moment of true encounter – has great parallels with relational depth in counselling and psychotherapy. A similar phenomenon of oneness and time standing still can occur between a counsellor and their client – indeed, between any humans that surrender to the encounter – so maybe you could interview some counselling theorists. Mearns and Cooper came up with relational depth, building upon the work of Carl Rogers, but there are more contributor to the field now. Good luck with this documentary – this little segment really resonated with me as I’m training to be a counsellor and really like the notion of relational depth.

  41. Shaun Chamberlin Says:

    Thanks for this Nick – interestingly Carl Rogers’ work is indeed referenced as an influence in David Fleming’s books. Perhaps there is room for more on David’s work on relationships and community-building in the final film…

  42. Corazon Cook Says:

    He is describing a meditation used by ancient healers when a meditation object merged and become one with the person meditating it. The meditation focus here was the deer. The two connected, followed by the surroundings, the earth and they became one. Beautiful explanation of how to meditate to become one with your surroundings.

  43. Jenny Parry Says:

    Hi there, this film is beautiful! Thank you for sharing. I have this sense of encounter myself. In meeting with Beings on walks, rabbits, deer, but also Trees and the ancient woods themselves. I have also been shown by my horses how to enter into this space of encounter if I am willing to allow it.

  44. David Brown Says:

    I loved this video too. As expressed earlier it’s about connecting with a profound wisdom inherent in Nature. Taoism is all about this. The work of Arnold Mindell (Process Work) focuses on assisting us to access this wisdom in navigating our lives. It’s vital to our spiritual life, and the unfolding of our future in this world. Deep gratitude for your work!

  45. Lorraine Gordon Says:

    The small town I live in has a multi-generational, urban deer population, which many see as a problem. I encounter several deer whenever I walk the trails, and I always respond to them with a wave and a verbal greeting. I feel a desire to communicate with them, and I believe that mankind should be able to figure out a way to coexist with the animals we encounter (and have, in many cases, infringed upon). It dismays me that at this stage of our evolution, all we can seem to do in reaction is to “cull” the herds. I would like to help manage their numbers, but not by killing them. I will follow your work with interest.

  46. Ken Kutner Says:

    The Songs of Trees by David Haskell adds a lot to this conversation. It outlines the latest scientific findings in the interconnections between all life, and does so with a sense of wonder and poetry.

  47. jean-claude Catry Says:

    Wonderful . it illustrate what we are explaining to people about the objective of our programs CONNECTION, and that it require timelessness and no agenda. As we connect we also educate ourselves and learn skills and information and it is also recreational, but connection require a different delivery system than education or recreation.hard to explain to the parents who trust us to educate their children,,,, this video help! http://www.wisdomoftheearth.ca/about-us/

  48. Rose Chaplin Says:

    This is beautiful and a fabulous explanation of being part of mother nature and the earth as a living being. More people in society need to reconnect, the effect of disconnection is all around us lowering vibration and affecting this earth and living beings negatively. More videos like this to raise the vibrations. Thank you.

  49. Debi Donald Says:

    Reminds me of a moment almost 50 years ago, as I sat with a young love in the woods, watching the local deer as they went about their business of living. One little doe came close, watching as my light blonde hair blew in the wind-the sun must have caught it in a particular way and gotten her attention. I stopped breathing as our eyes met and our minds became the same for that moment. Curiosity and then a deep love grew within the very earth we were planted on. Then, as quickly as it started, she turned and bounded away, as if to say, “Nice to meet you, but I have much to do before the winter snow.” I glanced at my companion, who was grinning from ear to ear in appreciation of the moment. I’ll never forget it.
    Thank you for the reminder. <3

  50. Bernard Lundie Says:

    Hello their, I am literally s just writing a talk about “encountering” as you put it and i absolutely loved this video. The facebook video end said it would be interested in potential collaboration and i would love this to be possible with my business, I am currently making plans with how to give such an experience /teach skill of seeing nature this way with schools and potentially university students.(I am a zoology graduate who felt that the taught system lacked completely what you are talking about!)

    I hope this is the right place to make contact

  51. Bill Licata Says:

    Have you studied Zen koans, sartori, Enlightenment, The Odyssey by Homer, Dante’s works, James Joyce Portrait of An artist and Ulysses and JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye? Homer, Dante and Joyce seem to share the thought that Joyce articulated, “Any object intensely regarded can be a gateway of access to the incorruptible eon of the gods.” Homer, Dante and Joyce intensely regard the women in their lives and the characters in their books – is this a way to saying Hallo to God?

  52. Bill Licata Says:

    To the above comment I would add the Book of Job and the numerous allusions to animals by God in the Chapters where he responds to Job. Are these all pointing toward an encounter of a deeper wisdom a deeper intelligence that cannot be articulated but only felt or intuited?

  53. Martha Ray Says:

    My experience of sharing beingness together in nature took place in my front yard. I was watching mocking birds, who were nesting in my magnolia tree, feeding their babies. I was mesmerized. I took out my small binoculars to get a closer look, and then it happened. It was as if the babies could sense someone was watching them. I felt the magical connection of deep love between us. It was as if we were one. I heard the words from a song, “from a distance, God is watching us,” go off in my head. It drew me in further. Pure bliss. Thus, began my next adventure as a wildlife rehabber. There is so much more to say, to experience with nature.

  54. Jo Bowers Says:

    makes me think of this Koala rescue story from Australia’s black saturday bushfires


  55. Professor Ashok Gangadean Says:

    ((Hi- I just sent you a message…reaching out for collaboration….on your Facebook posting. Please check it and if interested get back to me. I suggest that my lifework as a ((First Philosopher)) is highly relevant to your pioneering work on “encounter”. I work seeks to dilate the emergent frontier of ((encounters of the first kind)) in ((deep ontology)). Cheers, Ashok

  56. Nicola, Cape Town Says:

    Wonderful, thank you. The world needs lots more of this heart-driven content.

  57. An overview of the film, as it starts to take shape Says:

    […] our wonderfully popular taster on Encounter may fit best here, to remind us that a purely human-centred viewpoint diminishes our […]

  58. Dr. Andrea F. Polard Says:

    First of all, thank you for this clip that expresses so well the interbeing or oneness with the whole in Zen life. It was moving.
    As a Zen woman, I struggle to find words for such experiences you refer to as encounters. You did well!

    I work with other people, encounter people, just as the scientist encounters the animal. It becomes complicated with people. They might not want the encounter, frightened to be exposed, frightened of pain and of fear itself. Yet, it is my job as a psychologist to encounter people. It makes us all feel less alone.

    So, are you including human encounters? Encounters between lovers and between mother and child?
    Best, Andrea

  59. Elisa Says:

    First of all, what great film fragments and beautifully expressed what can happen in encountering another Being.

    Secondly, without wanting to diminish the uniqueness of Dr. Fleming’s experiences and encounters, the way he describes them reminded me a lot of something philosopher and theologian Martin Buber tried to explain as well. In his book ‘I and Thou’ he wrote about two different ways in which we can encounter other Beings: in the way of meeting only part of that Being, e.g. the biological structure of it, or it’s social strucuture and in the way of meeting another Being wholly, very similar to what Dr. Fleming describes here.

    Now, I am not sure why and for whom I am writing this down, as Dr. Fleming’s view is already so beautifully explained here, but I wanted to chip in and share the association I had while watching these filmfragments.

  60. Croz' Says:

    From July 2017 ~ Having just returned to Quito after a few days in the Amazon – and a 35 hour journey back by boat and bus, over-nighting on the bus due to a couple of landslides that halted all movement – I have to share a very special part of ‘the journey’.

    So, after arriving in the community by boat, late afternoon we discovered we needed a couple of ‘mattresses’ before bedding down, and had to visit a place called Mindi Lodge to get them…so toward the end of the day we took the boat and stopped by another part of the community to meet ‘Maxi’ the chief and his ‘people’…I tell the story of Maxi another time – but before we left they blessed us by sharing a bowl of their local hooch – Chicha or in Quecha ‘ Asuwar’…a fermented Yucca drink, slightly sour and with pulp, which I think they chew first to start the fermentation. After our greetings and much eye contact we departed and took another 40 mins down river and walked through the forest for about an hour to this beautiful clearing with a palm thatched octagonal viewing and rest structure…our two local PIlchi guides Raul and Vincenze we telling us about the location, having crossed a magical lake/lagoon some 3km away from the river….the sun went down and bats and fireflies zoomed around…some of the fireflies landing on us…Vincenze prepared some jungle maize popcorn and a passion-fruit juice drink as we just took it all in for about 30 mins….anyway, we picked up the mattresses and I hefted a couple of tents as we began out hike through the darkness and along the trail by torch light. Arriving back at the lagoon, Raul gently pushed the canoe back along the narrow canal toward the lagoon….lights out we looked up and the Milky Way burst into magnificent blaze…as we moved into the open water of the lake, like a mirror and as I gazed at the perfect clear reflection of the Milky Way I felt our canoe glide through the stars…we were moving in across the Milky Way in our own vessel in a different dimension, like a a waking dream….as our canoe moved silently across the vastness and the Madre Luna – a local bird – called out to us. Raul guided us, without artificial light exactly back to the point we had picked up the canoe, and we stepped off our ‘star-ship’ and secured Her. We had been moving for about 20mins when Vincenze, who was a bout 3m in front of me, jumped back breathlessly saying “Boa…big Boa” right in from of him. I had the strongest torch so Raul took it and we edged forward….he glimpsed the tail of the Boa and traced the length of the body of of said serpent…until the head was fully illuminated…and I ID’d it immediately…it wasn’t a Boa…it was fully grown adult Bushmaster!! This amazing creature, at night, in the Amazon was, like us hypnotised probably by the light and the 4 heat images it was picking up no more than 2m away…I had my camera, but to be honest I was more concerned with self preservation at the time and we gingerly moved a way, keep the light on him/her until we were at a safer distance…I tell you…it was utterly incredible…like a blessing from the forest spirits…the Pilchi Quechua word for the Bushmaster is Mortalo…and I am now part of the community folklore and one of their brothers…I can not tell you how that makes me feel.

    As I did not have the capacity to ‘take photos’ – and I will learn to trust the Pilchi the ‘next time’ we are ‘observing nature’ and take some – I will first post and image of a Bushmaster I encountered in the day and in a more ‘expected environment’, along with some of my first images getting to the Quechua Pilchi and the Amazon for the First Time.

    The Creator, The Universe and the Divine Feminine are most certainly ‘present’ and, in places where you feel you have stepped through a portal and back millennia it is a great source of certainty to ‘explore’.

  61. Jennifer Gorell Says:

    What Dr. FLeming describes as an encounter, where we experience the “ness” of the other being via a connection that seems ethereal, is how I experience connection with nature as well. When I was a child, I could “talk” to animals this way and get them to come to me or to remain calm near me. I am still able to experience an encounter as an adult and some people call me the animal whisperer. I am ecstatic about this film and I hope the concept of an encounter becomes common and accepted opinion.

  62. Paul SIMON Says:

    I fully agree with this, although to say what is ‘good’ and what is ‘better’ is a judgement wich is not ours to make. The description of encountering is so powerful, and together with the visual focus on the eyes of the munc-jack and the impact it has on our being, it is just magical and touching the centre and essence of our being; this ‘magic’ is a way of describing with what happens in our heart chakra, because we ARE conscious and because we WANT to make contact with nature and thus with ourselves: we consciously open our hearts: for the ones who are ready to receive love from the highest source, they will experience this warm limitless and joyful feeling, not bound to time or place. Thank you for this amazing and ‘accurate’ description of how ‘holiness’ in the sence of feeling ONE with the earth.

  63. Barbara Nuffer Says:

    Yes, the feeling of oneness with the universe. Thank you for sharing Dr. Fleming’s poetic description of it. There a more of us who understand this. We are coming together.

  64. Marijke Schoenmakers Says:

    This video reminded me of a very special experience I had last summer together with my husband when we went for a day cycling. It was a very nice day and while we were biking along a small river through fields and woods we, out of the blue, spontaneously started to greet everyone we encountered. “Hello cow, hello flowers, hello crow, hello sun, hello sir, hello cloud. We had a lot of fun doing it and we continued cheerfully greeting the beings we saw while we took a break sitting at the waterfront of a small softly flowing river. “Hello butterfly, hello duck, hello beetle, hello spider, hello dragonfly, hello tree, hello bumblebee ….. we got very joyful and went on while we ate our sandwich. Hello blackbird, I love kingfishers so I said: “ Hello kingfisher who will come along, hello nettle, hello fish we do not see, hello… A minute later a kingfish shining in all its splendor flown over the water as if it said: “Hi there”. We have not yet come to our surprise until in front of our nose a big fish jumps powerfully up from the water. We were in awe and I say, “Hello kingfish we will see again” and as if we have not been rewarded enough by our nature friends, shortly a kingfish floats over the water again. You can imagine that this day was unprecedented and had left a golden glow on our face. But above all what a wonderful experience it is ‘Encountering Another Being’.

    In 1993 I did the Avatar Training which is a powerful, pure self-development experiental program. Since 1995 I am a delivering Avatar master in the Netherlands and USA and the tools opened a whole new window in the inner working of my consciousness. By exploring and understanding how my beliefs affected my reality and how it was to feel again without any label or judgement and how I could change my blueprint, I awakened and created new possibilities. I rediscovered the preciousness of life and our natural state of being. I am very grateful that we can learn to be pure and in feel and connect with all beings. This video made me very happy and gave me hope for our planet!

  65. Emily Says:

    Lovely! Beautifully presented 🙂

  66. Raymond Schumann Says:

    This is an old conversation. It emerged as Romantic kickback to the Scientific Revolution. To the Industrial Revolution. To the Dark Satanic Mills. Here’s a slice of Wordsworth’s Ode:

    Intimations of Immortality from
    Recollections of Early Childhood

    There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
    The earth, and every common sight,
    To me did seem
    Apparelled in celestial light,
    The glory and the freshness of a dream.
    It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
    Turn wheresoe’er I may,
    By night or day.
    The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

    The Rainbow comes and goes,
    And lovely is the Rose,
    The Moon doth with delight
    Look round her when the heavens are bare,
    Waters on a starry night
    Are beautiful and fair;
    The sunshine is a glorious birth;
    But yet I know, where’er I go,
    That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

    Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
    And while the young lambs bound
    As to the tabor’s sound,
    To me alone there came a thought of grief:
    A timely utterance gave that thought relief,
    And I again am strong:
    The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;
    No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
    I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
    The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
    And all the earth is gay;
    Land and sea
    Give themselves up to jollity,
    And with the heart of May
    Doth every Beast keep holiday;—
    Thou Child of Joy,
    Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy Shepherd-boy.

    Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call
    Ye to each other make; I see
    The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
    My heart is at your festival,
    My head hath its coronal,
    The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.
    Oh evil day! if I were sullen
    While Earth herself is adorning,
    This sweet May-morning,
    And the Children are culling
    On every side,
    In a thousand valleys far and wide,
    Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
    And the Babe leaps up on his Mother’s arm:—
    I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!
    —But there’s a Tree, of many, one,
    A single field which I have looked upon,
    Both of them speak of something that is gone;
    The Pansy at my feet
    Doth the same tale repeat:
    Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
    Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

    Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
    The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
    Hath had elsewhere its setting,
    And cometh from afar:
    Not in entire forgetfulness,
    And not in utter nakedness,
    But trailing clouds of glory do we come
    From God, who is our home:
    Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

  67. Marcela Says:

    There is this woman, Anna Breytenbach. She is from South Africa and, what you describe as an encounter, is what she describes as interspecies intuitive communication. I’ve been trying my self and it’s beyond amazement. I think your documentary will benefit a lot if you talk to her too. Our planet is such an incredibly, powerful being! Thanks a lot for your effort to make us all remember that. Much love and light going your way!

  68. Patricia O'Connor Says:

    I enjoyed the film very much. It confirmed my experiences with domestic animals and explained it in a way I never could.
    I haven’t had really close encounters with animals in the wild. Some moments of “awareness” between myself and the wildlife in my city – squirrels, racoons, skunks, chipmunks. Even some rats. Once a fox. Unexpected – stillness on both sides. Sharing a brief time and space – and then moving quietly on.
    Having similar encounters at a zoo filled me with sadness and shame. Particularly looking into the eyes of the primates. They are essential to the world but have been put in prison.
    I haven’t been able to go to a zoo for years. All the justification for zoos as places of study and protection doesn’t outweigh the depressing, unnatural environment.

  69. Roderick Sutterby Says:

    Perfectly describes my encounters with wildlife and my attempts too paint them and the experience. One needs to become the animal to paint them well. My nights on the river with sea-trout and salmon became a revelation as they would often seem to meet me and communicate. Also otters, deer, foxes and once on a survey for whales and dolphins in the Hebrides.

  70. Roderick Sutterby Says:

    Perfectly describes my encounters with wildlife. Deer, foxes, otters and sea-trout observations at night on the river. Also, whales and dolphins on a survey boat in the Hebrides. As a painter I know one must become the creature to adequately paint and place the being into it’s realm with me.

  71. Peter Laughingwolf Says:

    I hope that you will find a way to make clear that you needn’t be a scientist to encounter others. This wonderful piece called to mind my own. Blessings, ^^

  72. Kathy McGuire Says:

    Martin Buber’s “I-Thou” versus “I-It,” True encounter. Gendlin‘s Focusing, http://www.focusing.org, Ann Weiser Cornell’s Inner Relationship Focusing, Peter Campbell and Ed McMahon’s Biospiritual Focusing , Carl Rogers’Empathic Listening, http://www.cultureofempathy.com, my manuals at http://www.cefocusing.com all can help lead you to this place:”Our body IS the earth”. Paying attention to your inner felt sense of your ongoing being puts you in connection with the larger spiritual space. Working through your own issues that allows you to see the other clearly. Mutual empathic listening enables the “I-Thou” experience. Empathic listening in conflict situations also can open this space .

  73. Michael Jones Says:

    I agree with so much of what was said, particularly that this encounter needs poetry rather than science to adequately describe it. However, the muntjac’s attention to him being considered a “hallo”, seemed silly. the muntjac is programmed by its evolution to be alert to predators. That “look” seems more like an assessment of danger, a look from other critters that I myself have encountered. This muntjac decided the scientist was not a danger and so he returned to his cud. The scientist was not further engaged by the muntjac, he was dismissed as irrelevant to the muntjac – not danger, not food, not a potential mate, not a territorially encroaching fellow muntjac – irrelevant. The scientist’s notion that he was engaged rather than appraised suggests more about the scientists anthropomorphization and projection than anything else.

    Many hunters will tell you that one of the joys of hunting (rather than killing) is again finding onesself in a predator role WITHIN the natural food chain, whether or not killing concludes the encounter. Many hunters will tell you that they savor that experience of being embedded within the natural order, experiencing a primative and essential aspect of their being. They may and often do make a choice, as did the scientist, not to act in their predator role, but that too is irrelevant. The relationship, predator-to-prey exists in that moment and is vivified. Watch a recent NYTimes video on kangaroo rats and snakes for another example of this manner of choosing to observe rather than prey upon. I have hunted, but only as an adolescent. I am not a hunter. I know that eye-to-eye moment, though. The scientist may be experiencing a complete dissociation from his primal being and, at a loss to otherwise understand it, must couch this moment in the intellectualized manner that we see.

  74. Vicky Richardson Says:

    It’s amazing reading these comments, to read of other peoples experiences and I know exactly what David Fleming meant. I’ve often felt this deep connection with nature, more than appreciating the beauty, sometimes through an encounter with an animal such as an owl or a hare, often with trees, sometimes with the sky, where I feel wide open and part of something vast, as though part of the vast stream of life, I’ve tried to describe it as being like a rapture but that doesn’t quite cover it. I love the Japanese Komorebi “sunlight through the leaves of trees” because it somehow for me embodies the pulsing inner life of the tree as something which resonates with our own heart beat. Shinrin-Yoka or “forest bathing” is a recognised remedy in Japan, and forests are set aside for it. I’ve read about the “Oceanic feeling” which Freud and Romain Rolland wrote about “the feeling of being at one with the universe”. Kate Bush captures is in Nocturn- she sings “We become panoramic”. There are threads of people articulating this out there and it’s wonderful to read these responses; some of these threads being woven together. I’m a song writer and this idea of seeing, feeling and being part of the vast and eternal is a rich source of inspiration.

  75. Maggie Graham Says:

    I was deeply moved by the encounter film because I’m having this sort of deep experience in trying to save a nature strip behind my house. The school/council have turned a perfectly good playing field into an artificial grass pitch and now they want to erect floodlighting that will drive away wildlife and blight the lives of people living nearby. It has made me really notice the bats that ply the air between us and the pitch in the stillness of twilight. Their fragile lives are squeezed into a small area and if this goes ahead they will disappear forever from our lives. Sometimes it feels like their balletic display is just for us, a thank you for being noticed which says so much about our own fragility. How do we get the powers that be to see that the small things matter, that they tell us something so important about our planet and the destructiveness of human ‘progress’. How can we help them put a stop to the waste of public money and earth’s resources?

  76. Arlyn Miller Says:

    I love the comparison to poetic encounter/lens. A wonderful compliment to this piece would be Jane Hirshfield’s poem “The Supple Deer.”

  77. Stacy Canterbury Says:

    I second Arlynn Miller’s comment. Since this is “a poetic encounter”, a poem would fit well here.

  78. Linda Frisone Says:

    I loved both the encounter with the munkjack deer (never had seen one before) and the encounter with the adorable koala bear. I, just last weekend, had an experience of eye contact with an injured gull, after doing energy work on s/he, that was very profound and moving. The gull, unfortunately, ended up dying; but I felt like I was able to meet s/he with love and comfort in its’ last hours.
    The next day I had several other wonderful eye contact encounters with seals in the ocean and my first spotting ever of a sea turtle in the Cape Cod Atlantic ocean. Exquisite! I feel very blessed.
    Blessings, Linda

  79. Linda Frisone Says:

    I loved both the encounter with the munkjack deer (never had seen one before) and the encounter with the adorable koala bear. I, just last weekend, had an experience of eye contact with an injured gull, after doing energy work on s/he, that was very profound and moving. The gull, unfortunately, ended up dying; but I felt like I was able to meet s/he with love and comfort in its’ last hours.
    The next day I had several other wonderful eye contact encounters with seals in the ocean and my first spotting ever of a sea turtle in the Cape Cod Atlantic ocean. Exquisite! I feel very blessed.
    Blessings, Linda

  80. Pamela Gleave Says:

    It is so wonderful to know that I am not isolated in my experience of the natural world and that this encountering is actually a “thing”! Intuitively, I have been experiencing the world like this since I was a young girl. I’m pretty sure I was (and still am) considered different in a way people can’t pinpoint, and it alienates them a little. But, there is so much to see, know and connect to if we “sink” into this alternate state and soak in the energy of what is before and around us.

    I am an amateur entomologist, I have done some graduate level work in this area, so I am out at night a lot. This is a prime time to experience the timelessness of being connected to the night and nature. I’m pretty sure Jane Goodall approached her chimps this way. She couldn’t have been as successful as she was if she hadn’t.

  81. Gail Cerridwen Says:

    If we truly lived alive, I believe this is the state we’d remain in: encountering animals, humans, trees, insects, and even that beyond the five senses, with a sense of reverence and wonder. I’ve always felt “apart” from most people, and believe this is partly why: I want to “encounter” in order to learn at the deepest levels. It IS a very different experience. And hard to speak of or describe. (You manage it.)

    Thanks for this very refreshing and sane peek in.

  82. Adaela McLaughlin Says:

    Feeling one’s consciousness expand is a deep spiritual experience. I have prayed for people to open up to the Earth in this way. Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing this topic to light! If you are looking for more folks to interview about the topic of Encountering Another Being, I can recommend these:
    1. Jim Conroy, Tree Whisperer, http://www.treewhispering.com. This is the type of encounter Jim helps people experience in order to heal plants. He lives in New Jersey, USA.
    2. Siddha Yoga, http://www.siddhayoga.org. Yoga is the mystical form of Hinduism. Siddha Yoga is based on the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. It teaches people to access the expansive consciousness within one’s Heart. One can experience the unity of all beings through this expansion. Based in South Fallsburg, New York, USA.

  83. LFSaw Says:

    I can only really talk about myself. Always. Everything else is appropriation. I decide that I want to interact. Encounter. I change the world with it. At least I assume that I do. At least I change myself.
    An encounter when I feel safe is different to when I need to work out if the situation causes a threat or not, or even if it is a source for something I need. I project what I expect to feel in such hypothetical situations onto the, possibly non-human, encountering opponents.
    It is a projection though. It is not what they feel. It is impossible for me to understand their needs, their interests, their intentions. Do they even have something that fits into this category or do they feel completely different?
    I can listen, probe and try to understand. I might find a moment that feels like the world is opening to me. I might feel that it all makes sense. But does it or am I just trapped in yet another bubble? Possibly the latter but I think it is not important, really, as long as I continue to listen instead of blindly act. Too many times, I think I understand only after a forceful destruction caused by ignorance.

  84. Ed O'Malley Says:

    Stephen really captures the difference between the western scientific way of “seeing” the “structure” of the world, as something outside oneself, other than oneself, apart from oneself, and the Indigenous, native way of being of the world, “seeing” all one’s relations.

    He speaks of studying (Scientific worldview) the muntjac deer, remembering the times waiting for it to appear, which could take an hour or more. I suggest that during that hour or more, he was letting go of the otherness, becoming more in tune with the forest, Nature, feeling relationship, and then, and only then, would deer appear.

    Then, if he was “lucky”, deer would turn and look at him. It was as if “…some kind of syrupy smoke was moving from the muntjac to me, infusing my whole being with muntjac-ness. So I could immediately understand the wholeness of the muntjac, and how they relate to the entire wood.”

    And he goes on to say that occasionally, if he “…was really lucky the wholeness would spread out, and [he’d] get a sense of the ecology of the entire earth.” Again I suggest he would become the earth herself, recognizing his (and all of our) oneness with Nature.

  85. Daisy Lee Says:

    Hello! I wanted to share with you about an incredible friend of mine who is considered the “St. Francis” here in Spain. (In fact, his name is Francisco!) He is incredibly empathic with wild animals and insects and attracts them to himself regularly. They come to him as if to honor him, or perhaps, because they know he honors them. I have a photo of a wild ram in the mountains of La Pedriza bowing to/with him, head to head…these never even get close to humans. Recently, a friend took footage of a wild fox coming to him when he beckoned it as he knew it was hungry and fed it from his hand. I have seen horses coral around him to “talk” to him, and butterflies and other insects play with him for long periods of time, one kissing him on the nose and leaving a drop of dew. (I don’t know what the drop of dew it left behind was, but I can imagine…) His close friends know of these encounters happening with Francisco, but I thought you might be curious to know about him too as I feel he is a rare and precious human being. His empathy has even allowed him to help someone suffering from Parkinson’s…he intuited a natural way for her to get off the majority of her medications and now she can go out without shaking and live a decent life. Her surprised doctor asked who this man was as he had never heard of anyone improving their symptoms without the use of meds. The list goes on. If you might be interested in learning more about the “St. Francis” of Spain, let me know and I will introduce you. Wishing you all the best in your encounters with the natural world.

  86. Kris Garrett Says:

    I thought of the PERFECT people to add to your film. Frederic Pignon and Margali Delgado are the stars of the show Cavalia. They demonstrate every day the empathy and connection in their encounters with horses. They live in France, speak excellent English, and have the most beautiful photogenic horses. Frederic is magical with the horses.

    I very much enjoyed the clips you’ve shared. Very heart felt and intriging

  87. Jacinta O Hara Says:

    Rane Willerslev in his ethnography entitled Soul Hunters offers some wonderful
    Insight into the encounter process between beings.

  88. Bianca Says:

    Yes! I look at encounters with other beings as reminders of my relationship with Spirit. It’s an opportunity to “check-in” with Spirit and receive messages.

  89. Doris Potter Says:

    I very much enjoyed this clip and it reminded me of a poem I wrote in 1994, called “The Sacred”. I would like to reproduce it here:


    A deer materializes before my eyes and the forest is lit by its luminance.
    Its atoms flung by unseen hand in glorious constellation.
    The divine is manifest and shimmers through its form.

    It is the soul of the wild creature that humbles me.
    It is the source of purest light, deepest knowing.
    To catch sight of a wild animal makes the heart leap –
    To be held in its gaze makes the heart soar.

    The sacred is clothed in fur and feathers and scales and skin
    It flashes out from shining eyes in darkened woods
    And speaks in bird songs and cicada serenades…

    It touches a place in me where wildness dwells –
    A long forgotten, hidden place that shivers in sudden resonance.

  90. Fa Says:

    Encountering. You can’t imagine what you gave me with this word. You described all these feelings of waiting a wild animal to appear just for few seconds, or a minute if you’re lucky, for hours, days and weeks. To feed it during the hard winter without actually seeing it, getting cold, being wet, etc. but keep doing it because you know that this food is keeping a whole family alive, it’s keeping them from going near to people that would kill them. And then, when the cold winter is just in your memories, you see the new generation. These babies that are alive because of your persistency, because you didn’t give up. And every time you see those eyes in the dark, or you hear this scream, you feel this encountering deep, deep inside you, with whole of your body. And then winter is about to come again 🙂
    Thank you!

  91. Billie Anderson Says:

    Anticipating this film with appreciation, gratefulness, oneness, love, joy!

  92. Diogo Calado Says:

    Chinese call it “灵” (líng), the capacity to connect with the myriads of things in nature (天地万物). Source: http://www.vividict.com/WordInfo.aspx?id=3859

  93. Jennifer Wilson Says:

    Just 4 1/2 minutes, and I have gained a new perspective. Definitely got me thinking. A walk in the woods will never be the same – in a good way. I have always felt a connection with nature. This brings it to a whole new level.

  94. Susana Corvillo Arroyo Says:

    I have not the authority or the background to speak so appropriately, but I have an intense need to make people understand there is such conection with Nature.
    I have tried many times, and too many times I feel absolutely alone and not undestood, but this video comforted my spirit, and helped me recover my hope.
    If this is of any help, please let me know how I can contribute.
    I can and will share your project in my humble blog.
    Meanwhile I hope this can explain better what I mean:

  95. JEAN KROEGER Says:

    In a small, but similar, way I ,too, experienced the feeling of encounter. I was attempting to coax a skittish, stray cat who had taken up residence under a bush in my yard, to come out I decided to just sit on the ground close to him and wait for him to approach me. It was a slow process of several days and while I waited, I began to hear the sounds of my garden, not just the hum of a hummingbird and the buzz of a bee, but the slightest rustling of leaves. I observed a beetle scuttle and ants laboriously drag, push and pull a treasure to their nest. A sort of calm enveloped me and I looked forward to my garden sit each day. I had become a part of a world where previously my feet had just stomped. As I looked into the cat’s eyes, I wondered what events had led to his hiding under this particular bush and I imagined that when he looked at me he was gauging my trustworthiness. Happily one day he did come to me and we have become great friends. He lolls on my lap in the comfort of my chair to the great satisfaction of both of us, but I sort of miss the garden days.

  96. Dr C Evans-Williams Says:

    It is entirely by chance, and a spot of good luck I have stumbled across this gem. As a Consultant Clinical Psychologist I identify with this concept but by a different name known to me. I would call “encountering” – Mindfulness in nature. However, extending the concept more broadly psychologists and psychotherapists often speak of the subjective “between” that occurs in a developed highly personal moment between therapist and patient. Stephen speaks of this in the video. What strikes me is – the application of David and Stephen’s encountering to current psychological therapeutic practice – mindful and empathic therapeutic practice not only between therapist and patient, but the factors involved in teaching others to engage in Mindfulness practice in nature (i.e. Encountering).
    I recently left the NHS (March 2017) to set up a community organisation supporting autistic people and individuals experiencing mental health difficulties. Our organisation is community led and made up of professionals with varying expertise. The tragedy is that the current NHS system is aspiring to follow a business market model. Patients are losing their human identities and are in effect being treated as capital stock – with the potential of making or breaking the system. What I mean by this is – NHS are focused upon targets, statistics, and data. Not the individual or the needs of the individual being.
    Interestingly, I have published on the subject of Existentialism or Modernism and the profound negative impact upon the psychological therapies in the NHS. In my writing, I call for a return to beginning, a time when psychologists connected with the individual and not the market system.

  97. Bonnie Says:

    Reminds me of Abraham Hicks. This is a lovely demonstration of the relationship between your physical being and consciousness. I had many moments just like this when I was a child. It has been the basis of my life. Finding the joy and the connection and embracing it. Thank you for putting this out into the world.

  98. Ingrid Leste Says:

    I can relate, and thank you for sharing. I had an encounter with a tortoise… Since then, endless encounters with all of them…

    Deep and magnificent
    Heart connected to their lens
    I could feel their energy.. pain and suffering
    Whole universe,
    Inter connected,
    “I just want to be free”
    They always whisper…

    I’d love to talk to you, it’s the first time that I feel that am alone in my connection with nature…

    Love and Respect,
    Ingrid Leste

  99. Patricia Nemeth Says:

    This is truly profound. He described what connection with nature, earth and the whole is about. He is speaking of the Oneness, beyond the linear mind, beyond linear time and space, a rare moment in present time that the fortunate few are able to experience. I studied with a Native American healer for 10 years. He lived in this state. I got to live there too when I was with him. This man in the video drew me into that experience with him. It is a beautiful treasure. I am eager to watch more segments of this film.

  100. Patricia Nemeth Says:

    This is truly profound. He described what the connection with nature, earth and the whole is about. He is speaking of the Oneness, beyond the linear mind, beyond linear time and space, a rare moment in present time that the fortunate few are able to experience. I studied with a Native American healer for 10 years. He lived in this state. I got to live there too when I was with him. This man in the film drew me into that experience with him. It is a beautiful treasure. I am eager to watch more segments of the film.

  101. Adaela McLaughlin Says:

    Dear Ingrid,

    I read your poem from the tortoise with interest.
    What do you think the tortoise is suffering from?
    What does it want to be free of?

    Thank you.

  102. John Everest Says:

    I write on Quora about my experiences with enlightenment. One example:

    Simply put, enlightenment occurs in the space of what is left when one ENDS all self-reinforcing delusions, such as those created by words. Technically, words are always abstract symbols, at least twice-removed from reality, and are, therefore, about as delusional as one can get, compared to direct experience of anything and everything. The word “tree” is an abstract symbol that represents the generalized image made of general characteristics which you use to represent an actual tree within the space of your abstract mind, with its imagination and verbal dialog. If you were attempting to recognize or imagine an oak tree in that mind, you might see a closeup of its leaves and recognize its peculiarly jagged shape, and a maple tree would be seen to have the rounded leaves for which it is known. But these brief, incomplete images, complex as they are, would quickly be replaced by the even briefer words, “oak tree” or just “tree.” And the images themselves, colorful and complex as they were, are frozen, ephemeral screen captures, which are hardly adequate representations of the living complexity of any actual individual tree, which could be silently observed for hours and still remain constantly fresh and new to the innocent eye. See THAT tree even once and the self-reinforcing delusions of images and words will instantly disappear, and your addiction to them will be over.

    “If the mind makes no discriminations, the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence. To understand the mystery of this One-essence is to be released from all entanglements. When all things are seen equally the timeless Self-essence is reached. No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relationless state.”
    the Book of Nothing by Sosan

  103. Bill Turner Says:

    Loved this short clip. Currently at 72 years this speaks to much of my life. Had an encounter with a bluff of Trees 50 years ago that expressed a depth of acceptance and love that was beyond my ability to accept at the time. I arrived at the point that all of life has this interconnectedness at that depth, only humanity has the ability to perceive self as separate from this Oneness.

  104. Lisa J Says:

    I would love to quote some of what Stephan Harding says here for an anthropological article exploring the topic of interspecies encounter. How would you like it to be quoted?
    Thank you 🙂

  105. Shaun Chamberlin Says:

    Dear Lisa,

    Thanks for asking. I’m sure Stephan would be delighted to be quoted in your article. You can find more details about him (including his email address) here: https://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/about/stephan-harding

    Depending on context, I would guess you might refer to him as Dr. Stephan Harding, Resident Ecologist, Schumacher College, or as the author of (the wonderful) Animate Earth. But perhaps easiest to just drop him a line and ask 🙂

    Also note that the film’s final title is The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation? (as opposed to our working title, The Seed Beneath the Snow).


  106. Lisa J. Says:

    Dear Shaun,

    thank you.
    And who would be the maker of the movie? An organization, a group of people, or one person in particular? I need an “author” to include the movie into my bibliography. Thanks 😉


  107. Shaun Chamberlin Says:

    Hm, good question! On reflection, the best ‘author’ to put would be two organisations: “Empathy Media and The Fleming Policy Centre”.

    Do let us know when the article’s published!


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