Edward Curtis (1868-1952), in a photograph of Hollow Horn Bear (1850-1913), taken in 1907, caught him gazing into us out of a sorrow that does not define him, with a serenity that does not confine him, open to ‘I AM’ that transcends him and opening, inspires him, saying: ‘I AM’ is one. ‘I AM’ is closer to him than he is to himself and closer to me than my own self, when turning turns and seeing sees ‘I AM’ here, present in the midst. Why is this face so familiar, so unexpectedly reminding me of something half-known, when he sees through me to ‘I AM,’ unveiling me by emptying me of myself? Turning round, he sees ‘I AM,’ so that being seen by him, there is ‘I AM’ here, not me. Turning me round, ‘I AM’ in him is open to what arises in each moment, awareness ever present, presence ever aware. No trace here or there of any created characteristics but no separation either from his created face or mine, the two one and the dance of one made two.
Hollow Horn says ‘I’ awareness and Great Bear says ‘AM’ presence, as he transmits wisdom and the Name. He is ‘I AM’ gently showing me ‘I AM,’ without trace of pretence or posturing. So can we always meet here, beyond past or future, where we are now, not face to face but face to no face in direct awareness, present as presence ever aware? Can anything separate us now, or divide us here, now that mountains of separation have all moved? Is this the single eye that illumines us both as light? Is this the glory that wisdom discerns in the Name?
He hollows me as a horn from which I drink him in, showing me the bear I always was before the fur came off. As bear, he teaches me to hunt, to gather berries at the right time, to sleep whole winters without dying of cold, to live in harmony with forest and river beneath the stars. As bear, he gives himself in sacrifice that all may partake, releasing separation so that communion is restored. As celestial bear, he disappears when the hunt contracts from tribe to warrior elite, and stellar bear becomes a plough of stars inspiring farmers to till the earth with ox or shire until the dawn of the machine. So where is he now, in the era of the machine, the Great Bear, master of the forest and the hunt? He is who he always was, ‘I AM,’ now bear, now witness to bear sacrifices in the frozen north, now bear in human form dancing in caves of power, where the hunt was remembered long after the cave bear disappeared. Horned and hollow, the dance of bears co-inheres with the dance of the Name ‘I AM,’ dissolving hells by resolving heavens into light that befriends the dark, turning dark fear into love’s light of glory as the dance goes on. Hollow and horned, the shaman bear turns us back, turns us round to where ‘I AM is I AM,’ and nothing can separate us from wisdom or the Name, hallowing the hollow horn of the Great Bear.