A couple of days ago I watched a move with my daughter called “The Platform.” It was graphic and it shook me to my core much like coronavirus. One person might see that movie and see nothing but an entertaining thriller, but, for me, it was a powerful social metaphor. When I wrote my first novel, “Chocolate Souffle,” it could easily be enjoyed as romantic drama, but I wrote it with an underlying social commentary. Many works of art are like that. They have more than one level of meaning. From my perspective, life is the same way. We can live on the surface or we can go deep.
When I first started studying Buddhism back in 2010, I came to the realization that even animals care about their families. You might notice that birds follow the flock, bees work toward the goal of the hive, ants build communities, and even stray dogs will roam in packs. The term “mother bear” is used by moms everywhere to describe how we “go hard” for our kids. Just writing those words make the hair on the back of my neck stand up – mothering is so profoundly instinctual for me. I’ve learned we have a lot in common with animals when it comes to the instinct for survival and the desire for posterity.
If we have so much in common with animals, what makes humans different? We all have instincts, feel pain, desire community and have some expression of love. Most of us have seen domestic animals express affection. Cats and dogs may nuzzle their human guardians or each other. They may groom, lick and play together. If you’ve observed documentaries of wild animals the same behaviors are apparent. If you’ve seen footage of animals in factory farms, cows will wail for days when their calves are taken from them so that their milk can be made into cheese and their babies can be made into veal.
So what’s different about people? We all can agree humans have a higher level of intellectual capacity. Pigs are known to have the intelligence of an average 3-year-old child. Chimpanzees share 99% of human DNA and have sometimes outperformed humans in memory tests. Dolphins, dogs and even bees all receive high marks for intelligence. Elephants seem to be credited with a significant level of self-awareness, but not near the level of humans. And this is where I believe the true differences arise. Humans have a self-awareness and spiritual capacity that animals simply don’t have.
When we live our lives on the surface we get jobs, entertain ourselves, have friends and have families – essentially, the same things that animals do. Our version might be more complicated, but the end result is the same. When we live our lives with depth, we live in the spirit. We wonder about infinity, life and death, sleep and dreams, right and wrong. We consider the unseen world of the spirit within us and of the ether beyond us. We consider how our actions impact us and our families, but also others we don’t know and places we’ve never seen.
I encourage you to make some time to be in spirit, whether through prayer, meditation, restorative yoga, yoga nidra or some other stillness practice. If you always pray, try meditation. If you meditate regularly, try yoga nidra. One thing #rona has provided is abundant opportunity to access online services for free. Find something new and give it a shot – there’s nothing to lose but the contraction of your mind.
I wish you Freedom, Alignment and Effortless Abundance!
P.S. The photo is the image for a 5-minute meditation that I uploaded today. Access it and other love offerings for FREE at soundcloud.com/vegan_honeybutterflyz. Check out “The Platform” if you can stomach it. It’s a Spanish thriller available on Netfllix. You may want to watch some scenes through covered eyes, but if you stay the course, it can be eye-opening.