The Spirituality of Animals



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The Spirituality of Animals
Comments by Barry Muhl - 11 Jan 2007

Well, basically the point is that in some ways, it's specious to make distinctions between "human" and "animal" functionality, as the distinctions don't really exist, at least not in all contexts; and in other ways, the comparison is very much an apples-and-oranges affair, making comparisons difficult if not impossible. In general, I agree with the points you're making, but it's not necessarily the case that we should look to other animals as our icon of how to endure. Every species has its own behaviors and traits, and men shouldn't try to be cats, any more than chimps should try to be wolves. On the other hand, there is plenty of wisdom to be gained from observing how all things live and act. I think you and I just differ somewhat in how and when to find the lessons and apply them. I tend to find a great deal of kinship with cats and dogs, and I believe this has to do with the long co-evolution of man with wolf and man with feline. In those instances, there are certain behavioral "hooks" we have, by virtue of the fact that our societies and their societies have evolved to incorporate each other. But outside of those domestic species, and a few closely-related primates, it's difficult to conceive of aspects of animal life that have much applicability to our own.

I'm not so much arguing the point in general as I am nitpicking some of the details. I've just seen enough misery and woe on the part of animals, domestic and wild, that I can't believe they have some sort of resource of inner tranquility that we humans lack. Everything and everybody suffers, and while some ways of dealing with suffering might seem admirable, they won't necessarily apply to other individuals or situations.

Barry Muhl

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