How would this change our world?
If everyone understood that all beings, whether animal, insect, bird, plant or even mineral, are sentient and therefore conscious, how would this change the way we interact with them?
If we understood and began to appreciate all living beings as 'sacred' and 'intelligent,' what impact would this have on us, and all the other living forms with whom we co-exist on this planet?
I remember as a child that one day my mother asked me to go over to the neighbours house to find out if they were at home. At that time we were living in Nelson, a small town in the north of the South Island of New Zealand.
Our neighbours were a husband and wife and their two children with whom we young ones often played of an evening. They had not long moved to Nelson and being so near by, our family had instantly warmed to these new arrivals.
I ventured over the side fence and made my way up the staircase to the front door. Their tabby cat was sitting on the doorstep imbibing the warm noon sunshine. I was already acquainted with her and so gave her a nod as i climbed past to ring the doorbell. I pushed the button a few times but there was no response from within and so, without thinking, i sat down next to the venerable puss and asked her where the family had gone. She looked up at me, made a little feline squeak and we amicably bumped heads and then sat a while in companionable silence.
After some time i slowly got up and made my way back over the fence to tell my mother that the family were, at that minute, away somewhere. When i entered the house a chorus of giggling and squeals of laughter greeted me. Evidently, my mum and sisters had been watching my encounter with the neighbours cat through the back bedroom window which directly overlooked the neighbours staircase. They had overheard our conversation.
For some reason they found it inexpressibly silly and funny that i should have been sitting there verbally interacting with a cat!
I found it equally silly and funny that they did not understand that one could.
I was sometimes reminded of that incident whenever family members would begin to recount stories and memories of our childhood days, yet, from then until now, i still do not see what they could possibly have found so strange or amusing.
All life that is sentient, is there fore conscious.
It is incredibly important for us to take this statement seriously and give it the consideration that it deserves. Day after day we can witness around us acts of callousness and cruelty of which most people are not even aware. They are not aware because they simply do not acknowledge that other life forms are sentient and therefore feel and respond to energy, moods and pain, just as we do. This is an extremely crucial point to understand if we are ever to come into greater harmony with all other life forms with whom we share this world.
The various forms of sentient life may not speak our language but there is a place where understanding can occur naturally no matter what the outer form may be.
Many who own so called 'pets' become conscious of this truth by necessity of close association and yet somehow they often continue to exclude other forms of life. If we can ever begin to question our assumptions and reactions towards all living beings we would quickly be forced to change many long held beliefs. If we want to allow the extra ordinary bio diversity of life on our planet to continue to, not only exist but thrive, then a shift must take place in our perception.
At the moment human beings predominantly have the supremely arrogant view that everything in nature, be it animal, plant or mineral, exists for their use and convenience alone.
How primitive and barbaric is this view?
Thankfully this is beginning to change, there is something of an awakening in the consciousness of a growing number of people. It is not yet widespread, but it is a beginning. Many of the so-called primitive societies understood and lived by the natural laws of respectful and sustainable co-existence. But in recent human history most of these intuitive qualities have been lost and forgotten.
Awareness does not discriminate between forms. It is the inherent nature of all sentient life, how ever and where ever it may appear...
What we begin to see now, even though it is in a very nascent stage, is something of a quiet opening and awakening. At this time it is just a few people who are paving the way in 'inter species communication,' but their work is sending out ripples, which in time will have a profound impact on the way we view the 'living world' around us.
However, each and every one of us can help to accelerate this process through our every day small deeds and by changing the way we think.
Then like a shift in the tide, almost imperceptibly but slowly with a gathering momentum it can begin to catch on and start challenging old and previously unquestioned 'beliefs.'
There will come a time when we will look back on current accepted norms and behaviours and be amazed that we could live in such a barbaric and unaware world such as we have been living in for so long. It would seem that the more, so-called advanced today's societies think themselves to be, the more unaware and brutal they actually are.
When ingrained beliefs begin to under-go a shift, when we begin to become aware of who and what we really are, we can not help but start to notice that this same 'being-ness' which is in us, also pervades everything else. Everything includes everything, animals, plants, insects, and the planet on which we live, move and have our being.
Inter-connected-ness is vaster and more thoroughly integrating than our mind can ever really comprehend or grasp, therefore we need to move beyond mind in order to begin to really get a sense of the underlying reality out of which all of life arises.
The implications of such a shift in awareness are truly immense.
An appreciation of the unity and sacredness of all life is integral to awakening to our own awareness.
Awakened Beings have long understood the inter-connectedness and inherent divinity in all sentient life forms. From the Buddha, to Ramana Maharshi, and countless others besides, great sages have communicated with animals in such a natural way which is completely respectful of who and what really exists. For Them this truth is a living reality, not something to be questioned or doubted, Their experience which moves from the heart in an ever fresh exuberance of being, is a timeless and constant affirmation of unity in diversity.
Those who stayed near Ramana Maharshi and who were honoured to witness His many exchanges and relationships with animals, birds, and at times also the plant life, took it all quite for-granted. The animals simply became a part of the life of the ashram. The Maharshi treated them all as His own children, showing them the same care and respect that He bestowed upon all the people who were drawn to be near Him.
A Jnani can differentiate between the different forms of life, but to Him all are inherently 'divine.'
All are sacred 'drops' from the same sacred ocean of life.
The changes which can be initiated by humans in their interaction and effect upon the different kingdoms of life, begin in our mind and thinking. When the energy of the heart is enabled to speak through the mind anything becomes possible. This is not mushy, sentimental talk, but truth based on a profound and inherent law in nature that always moves towards harmony and balance.
As in all things, we are inevitably drawn back to the one and central tenet, the inherent 'divinity' within all sentient life.
To find out who and what we really are is so vital in reclaiming our true inheritance and in recognising that all living beings have an equal claim in this same inexhaustible spring of life. However we, as human beings, hold a unique position and responsibility within the kingdoms of nature.
We have the capacity to know who and what we really are to live and let live by this truth.