When we think that only humans think, feel and know, we are making a grave mistake. (1)
“Some populations of cockroaches evolved a simple, highly effective defense against sweet-tasting poison baits: They switched their internal chemistry around so that glucose, a form of sugar that is a sweet come-hither to countless forms of life, tastes bitter.” (2) To some of us this quote might seem a bit earth-shaking. “They,” as in the cockroaches “switched” their internal chemistry? Who knew that the lowly cockroach had the power of the Creator, that is to say, the power to control evolution? Could it be that a shift in worldview for our species is in order. Reality may be at the same time “simpler” and radically different than we formerly realized.
Maybe our species’ failure to effectively address the many problems that have some of us feeling a little panicky could be traced to faulty beliefs about the nature of reality itself. Perhaps plants and animals are involved in shaping their evolution meaning they have a form of “reasoning” and perhaps even “feeling” appropriate to them. Too weird? Read on my friend.
The current dominant global paradigm which has most of us understanding creation as a “shattered” composite of discreetly separate and even alienated pieces is not what, in fact, exists. Maybe the true story of Creation is a web of Oneness, where each vegetable, animal and mineral is a crucial part of an interconnected, interdependent and interrelated whole with a consciousness of its own. Perhaps compassion, a heartfelt “feeling” is the glue that holds this Creation together.
If conscious, self-evolving cockroaches were not enough, how about a human-hugging octopus? Hold on to your hat, here we go! Our next paradigm-breaking story is told in the book Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves by Frans de Waal. “The two old friends hadn’t seen each other lately. Now one of them [Mama, a chimpanzee] was on her deathbed, crippled with arthritis, refusing food and drink, dying of old age. Her friend [Dutch biologist, Dr. Jan Van Hoof] had come to say goodbye. At first she didn’t seem to notice him. But when she realized he was there, her reaction was unmistakable: Her face broke into an ecstatic grin. She cried out in delight. She reached for her visitor’s head and stroked his hair. As he caressed her face, she draped her arm around his neck and pulled him closer.” (1) That is what we call in Simple Reality an expression of “feeling.”
The New York Times book reviewer, Sy Montgomery, found himself in a similar yet radically different situation. “A few years ago, I found myself in a situation almost identical to the one de Waal describes at the start of his book. My friend Octavia was old, sick and dying. We hadn’t looked into each other’s eyes for a long while—nearly a fifth of her life span. I came to say goodbye. When she caught sight of me, Octavia, with great effort, using some of the last of her limited strength, rose to greet me and enveloped me in her arms.” (1)
“There were a few differences between the opening scene of ‘Mama’s Last Hug’ and the one between Octavia and me. Mama and Van Hoff shared an ancestor perhaps five million years ago; my friend and I had last shared an ancestor in the Precambrian Era—before limbs or eyes had evolved, back when practically everyone was a tube. Van Hoof and Mama had almost identical facial muscles and skeletal structure; Octavia’s mouth was in her armpits, she had no skeleton at all and her arms were equipped with 1,600 suckers. Octavia was a giant Pacific octopus. Yet she and I cared for each other—enough for both of us to delight in one last, tender, emotional embrace.” (1)
The “grave mistake” mentioned in our opening statement is a partial indictment of our old toxic narrative. The old paradigm is the source of all human suffering. If we continue to choose the old beliefs, attitudes and values as the overly rigid basis of our definition of reality, it’s curtains for our species. “This isn’t just silly; it’s dangerous. Instead of worrying about anthropomorphizing animals, we should fear making a far worse mistake, what de Waal calls ‘anthropodential.’ When we deny the facts of evolution, when we pretend that only humans think, feel and know, ‘it stands in the way of a frank assessment of who we are as a species,’ he writes.” (1)
Let’s draw some profound conclusions about animal behavior, including human behavior, which may help our species change direction. Join us if you like by clicking on the link below.
Insight # 107: Your problem is to get at the wisdom that you already have—but which is now inaccessible, due to your security, sensation and power-dominated consciousness. –Ken Keyes (3)
- Feeling and Emotion on this blog and in print in The ABC’s of Simple Reality: The Encyclopedia of Self-Transformation, Vol I (2018), pages 184-189, by Roy Charles Henry.
- Montgomery, Sy. “Animal Care.” The New York Times Book Review. March 3, 2019, pages 1 & 16.
- Gorman, James. “Bittersweet Verification Of Pest’s Tenacity.” The New York Times. May 24, 2013, page 21A.
- Keyes, Ken. Handbook to Higher Consciousness. Berkley, California: Living Love Center, 1975, page 131.