What You Can’t Get Rid Of (Chickens, Karma, and Love)

Okay . . . the story:

Our friend Steve has a wonderful garden: veggies, fruit trees, flowers, and . . . chickens.

This is a true story of chicken karma.

Among his flock, Steve had one aggressive chicken who didn’t lay eggs and would attack every new chicken that Steve introduced into the coop.

“I had to get rid of the chicken,” Steve told me. “She was causing havoc – and not producing a single egg. But, I couldn’t bring myself to kill her.”

His property is adjacent to a huge stretch of protected wetlands – the San Elijo Lagoon. Steve, with mixed feelings, tossed the chicken over the fence into the wilds.

Peace descended on the Chicken Coop . . . it seemed.

Three days later, there was a knock on his door.

It was Steve’s neighbor.

“You’ve got a chicken in the front yard.”


Yep, the chicken was home again.

Illustration by Eric Klein

Illustration by Eric Klein


We all have unwanted chickens.

I do. So, do you.

Now, I’m not talking about people. I’m talking about your inner chickens. The patterns of emotional reactivity, unwanted attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that aren’t producing any eggs and cause endless upsets and havoc.

Being spiritually inclined, we don’t want to wield a hatchet.

So, we toss them over the fence – into the wilderness of the mind. We suppress, repress, ignore, or distract ourselves from facing the unwanted chickens within. And hope that they’ll just go away, starve, or get eaten by a passing coyote.

But, our inner chickens aren’t disposable.

Whatever is unhealed, unintegrated will keep returning –  to be recognized and infused with loving awareness.

That’s meditation practice – a welcoming process that brings loving awareness into your body/mind and reveals the places in the mind, memory, and body where unresolved suffering resides.

The descent of loving awareness into the body/mind can be intense.

It awakens memories and emotions – often ancient and deep memories and emotions – of love lost, love betrayed, love compromised, love interrupted . . . and yes, also love fulfilled.

Deep in the cells of the body and petals of the mind – the memories are encoded.

These encoded memories operate as a web of defensiveness and self-protection. These memories are organic states of consciousness whose main function is to ensure that you never experience the loss, betrayal, compromise, or wound again . . .

These memories are like angry chickens – on patrol 24/7 guarding you and circling your heart. They are on the defensive – ensuring that your heart stays safe.

But this safety is a prison. It may be safe. But, it’s the safety of a defended and contracted heart.

I’m here to remind you (and me): there’s a chicken in your front yard.

It wants to come home. To heal. To be free.

Who knows – it may even produce some eggs.

Love & Shanti


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