Lessons From the Animals: Part 1 of 3

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By Asoka Selvarajah, Ph.D

If you consult religion and modern science, animals can be taken completely at face value. The modern notion is they are more robotic in nature, enslaved to their programming and instincts. Is it any wonder that we are given dominion over them in the book of Genesis?

If you are willing to reexamine this concept and release this kind of brainwashing, a new and wonderful way of acknowleding animals reveals itself. You will then begin to realize there is an intelligence, and a sentient wisdom, present in all animals. It just takes a desire and willingness to look with fresh eyes.

For those who live in direct contact with nature, such as tribal peoples this is hardly a new concept. They need no laboratory, or scientific tests, to determine the capabilities of animals. The innate respect these people have for Nature allows them to marvel at the many wonders in nature that remain a mystery to the mass of humanity.

Even the tiniest animal, upon closer examination, can reveal a level of individuality that might seem incredible. In her book, "The Voice Of The Infinite In The Small", authoress Joanne Elizabeth Lack suggests that even the insect kingdom may have a mysterious wisdom within each insect and, at the very least, a degree of individuality may be realized, that which most of us never observe.

Personally, I have witnessed two remarkable instances of this myself, largely as a result of the increased awareness I gained after reading Lack's book Onci I was in the woods, I happened to watch a group of ants at work. Two of the ants were dragging a rather large insect carcass back to the nest. In my eyes it looked like they were having a very tough time of it. They were tugging and heaving through the tangled blades of grass. At one point, one of them stopped. This ant walked away, out of direct line of sight of the other ant and their joint labour. It seemed to be taking a break. It proceeded to clean its mandibles. I watched as this went on for at least a couple of minutes. After this break, the ant walked back to the other ant and continued working on the job together!

This demonstrated to me a remarkable fact. The ant who took a break seemed to have a memory of what it was doing several minutes ago. This suggests it does have a brain! Rather than wandering off in search of a new task, as a "mindless robot," as suggested, it remembered its task and went back to the job it had been doing minutes before, despite there was no direct line of sight between this ant and the insect corpse.

I had another occurance where I was able to observe insect individuality. This came when I first moved to Italy. I was putting together my new home, and had to stay there for five weeks with the minimum of personal belongings or personal entertainment. During this time, three flies took up residence in the living room. After several days, they were still there. Then I began to notice a remarkable thing. One of the three showed a distinct liking for settling itself on my knee whenever I was reading or watching TV! I thought this was quite interesting, as he wouldn't move. He would just sit there for as long as I was still. Sometimes he would find another place on my jeans like a fold or a crease. However, if I looked for him, I would eventually find him somewhere. After several weeks I noticed the other two flys also picked up this habit.

I began to play with him. If I looked him straight in the eyes, he would always turn himself ninety degrees after a few seconds and look in another direction! It seemed he did not like me "eyeballing" him! This was not single occurance, for it lierally happened dozens of times over several weeks, and so it is definitely no fluke.

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